No relation between rainfall, outpatient visits for joint or back pain, study finds: 3 things to know

An observational study in the BMJ assessed whether a relationship exists between the proportion of claims for joint or back pain and the number of rainy days in the week of the outpatient visit. Researchers analyzed U.S. Medicare insurance claims data linked to rainfall data from U.S. weather stations.

Here are three things to know:

1. The study surveyed data from 1,552,842 adults aged 65 or older attending a total of 11,673,392 outpatient visits with a general internist between 2008 and 2012.

2. The study adjusted for patient characteristics, chronic conditions and geographic fixed effects.

3. The difference in the proportion of patients with joint or back pain between rainy days and non-rainy days was significant (adjusted 6.35 percent versus 6.39 percent), but the difference was in the opposite anticipated direction. However, the authors indicated that the difference was too small to be clinically meaningful.

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