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The Association Between Symptoms of Depression and Office Visits in Patients With Nontraumatic Upper-Extremity Illness

      Purpose

      Because psychological and social factors increase symptoms and limitations, it is possible that they are also related to higher use of care.

      Methods

      We used a database of an academic outpatient orthopedic department in which patient-reported outcome measures were routinely collected and identified 3,620 patients with de Quervain tendinopathy, ganglion, trapeziometacarpal arthritis, trigger digit, or carpal tunnel syndrome who remained in care at least 3 months. At every office visit, patients completed the Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System (PROMIS) Physical Function Computerized Adaptive Test (CAT), PROMIS Pain Interference CAT, and PROMIS Depression CAT. We conducted multivariable Poisson regression analysis of factors associated with the total number of office visits, accounting for PROMIS scores at the first office visit, age, surgical treatment, sex, diagnosis, and clinician team.

      Results

      Operative treatment had the greatest influence on the number of office visits. Other variables associated with the number of visits were female sex, younger age, higher PROMIS Depression scores, and higher Pain Interference scores.

      Conclusions

      Treatment choice had the greatest influence on the number of subsequent visits for atraumatic conditions. The fact that the total number of office visits is associated with greater symptoms of depression and greater pain interference, independent of treatment choice, suggests a relation between mental health and resource use.

      Clinical relevance

      Quality improvement efforts and future research might address whether adding strategies to decrease symptoms of depression and optimize coping strategies (to reduce pain interference) might improve upper-extremity health more efficiently than standard treatment alone.

      Key words

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