Referring to multimodal rehabilitation for patients with musculoskeletal disorders - a register study in primary health care

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


BACKGROUND: In 2008, the Swedish government introduced a National Rehabilitation Program, in which the government financially reimburses the county councils for evidence-based multimodal rehabilitation (MMR) interventions. The target group is patients of working age with musculoskeletal disorders (MSD), expected to return to work or remain at work after rehabilitation. Much attention in the evaluations has been on patient outcomes and on processes. We lack knowledge about how factors related to health care providers and community can have an impact on how patients have access to MMR. The aim of this study was therefore to study the impact of health care provider and community related factors on referrals to MMR in patients with MSD applying for health care in primary health care.

METHODS: This was a primary health care-based cohort study based on prospectively ascertained register data. All primary health care centres (PHCC) contracted in Region Skåne in 2010-2012, referring to MMR were included (n = 153). The health care provider factors studied were: community size, PHCC size, public or private PHCC, whether or not the PHCCs provided their own MMR, burden of illness and the community socioeconomic status among the registered population at the PHCCs. The results are presented with descriptive statistics and for the analysis, non-parametric and multiple linear regression analyses were applied.

RESULTS: PHCCs located in larger communities sent more referrals/1000 registered population (p = 0.020). Private PHCCs sent more referrals/1000 registered population compared to public units (p = 0.035). Factors related to more MMR referrals/1000 registered population in the multiple regression analyses were PHCCs located in medium and large communities and with above average socioeconomic status among the registered population at the PHCCs, private PHCC and PHCCs providing their own MMR. The explanation degree for the final model was 24.5%.

CONCLUSIONS: We found that referral rates to MMR were positively associated with PHCCs located in medium and large sized communities with higher socioeconomic status among the registered population, private PHCCs and PHCCs providing their own MMR. Patients with MSD are thus facing significant inequities and were thus not offered the same opportunities for referrals to rehabilitation regardless of which PHCC they visited.


External organisations
  • Region Kronoberg
  • Lund University
  • Registercentrum Syd
  • Blekinge Centre of competence
  • Region Skåne
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Health Care Service and Management, Health Policy and Services and Health Economy
Original languageEnglish
Article number15
JournalBMC Health Services Research
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Jan 7
Publication categoryResearch

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