The SPORT value compass: Do the extra costs of undergoing spine surgery produce better health benefits?

James N. Weinstein, Anna N.A. Tosteson, Tor D. Tosteson, Jon D. Lurie, William A. Abdu, Sohail K. Mirza, Wenyan Zhao, Tamara S. Morgan, Eugene C. Nelson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Background: The Spine Patient Outcomes Research Trial aimed to determine the comparative effectiveness of surgical care versus nonoperative care by measuring longitudinal values: outcomes, satisfaction, and costs.

Methods: This paper aims to summarize available evidence from the Spine Patient Outcomes Research Trial by addressing 2 important questions about outcomes and costs for 3 types of spine problem: (1) how do outcomes and costs of spine patients differ depending on whether they are treated surgically compared with nonoperative care? (2) What is the incremental cost per quality adjusted life year for surgical care over nonoperative care?.

Results: After 4 years of follow-up, patients with 3 spine conditions that may be treated surgically or nonoperatively have systematic differences in value endpoints. The average surgical patient enjoys better health outcomes and higher treatment satisfaction but incurs higher costs.

Conclusions: Spine care is preference sensitive and because outcomes, satisfaction, and costs vary over time and between patients, data on value can help patients make better-informed decisions and help payers know what their dollars are buying.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1055-1063
Number of pages9
JournalMedical care
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 10 2014


  • Costs
  • Low back pain
  • Nonsurgical treatment
  • Preference sensitive
  • Surgery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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