Identifying Neck and Back Pain in Administrative Data: Defining the Right Cohort

Spine, 05/02/2012

Gaps are evident in existing methods and a new framework to identify patients with neck pain and back pain in administrative data is proposed.


  • A literature review produced 7 methods for identifying neck and back pain in administrative data.
  • These code lists were used to search Veterans Health Administration data for patients with back and neck problems, and to further categorize each case by spinal segment involved, as nonspecific/mechanical and as surgical or not.


  • There is considerable overlap in most algorithms.
  • However, gaps persist.

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