Author(s): Ekman M, Granstrom O, Omerov S, Jacob J, Landen M
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Abstract BACKGROUND: Schizophrenia is a disabling psychiatric disorder that has severe consequences for patients and their families. Moreover, the expensive treatment of schizophrenia imposes a burden on health care providers and the wider society. Existing cost estimates for Sweden, however, are based on relatively small patient populations and need to be confirmed in a large register-based study. AIMS OF THE STUDY: To investigate the health care resource utilization and cost-of-illness in patients with schizophrenia in Sweden and to relate the costs to hospitalizations and global assessment of functioning (GAF). METHODS: Hospital-based registry data were combined with national registry data from a large patient population to get reliable estimates of the costs of schizophrenia in Sweden. Schizophrenia was defined by ICD-10 codes F20; F21; F23.1,2,8,9; F25.1,8,9. Registry data on socio-demographics and disease-related healthcare resource use in outpatient and inpatient care were obtained from Northern Stockholm Psychiatry. Data on pharmaceuticals were obtained from the National Board of Health and Welfare, and data on sick leave and early retirement were obtained from the Swedish Social Insurance Agency. Costs for community mental health care were not available at the individual level, but were estimated based on previous studies and aggregate cost data from Stockholm. Resource use data from the registries were combined with unit costs from publicly available sources. The study was conducted from a societal perspective, with indirect costs valued according to the human capital method. RESULTS: The average annual psychiatric cost per patient with schizophrenia in 2008 was EUR 42700 (95\% CI: EUR 41500-44000), based on a sample of 2161 patients. To this should be added costs for community mental health care of EUR 12400 per patient, giving a total cost of EUR 55100 per patient. The two largest cost items in the total costs were indirect costs due to lost productivity (60\%) and community mental health care (22\% of the total cost). Patients who were hospitalized in 2008 had greater psychiatric costs than those who were not, EUR 71700 vs. EUR 37700 (p<0.0001). Psychiatric costs were significantly and negatively correlated with GAF (p<0.001). DISCUSSION: The major strengths of the study are the relatively large sample, and the linkage of patient-level clinical data on inpatient and outpatient care with national registry data on prescription pharmaceuticals, and days on social insurance. A limitation was that costs for informal care and primary care were not included in the data, but previous studies suggest that these costs items are small compared to other costs for schizophrenia. IMPLICATIONS FOR HEALTH POLICIES AND FUTURE RESEARCH: Costs were strongly related to hospitalization and GAF, suggesting that attempts to improve global functioning and avoid hospitalizations by means of effective treatment and rehabilitation might not only decrease suffering for patients and relatives, but also reduce the societal cost of schizophrenia. A detailed knowledge of the societal costs can also be helpful in evaluating the cost-effectiveness of new treatment strategies to improve the care for patients with schizophrenia.
This article was published in J Ment Health Policy Econ
and referenced in Bipolar Disorder: Open Access