March 22, 2006

The Economic Burden of Schizophrenia in Canada

A new report has come out that looks at the economic costs of schizophrenia in Canada during the 2004 year.

The goal of the study was to estimate the financial burden of schizophrenia in Canada in 2004.

Methods: A prevalence-based cost-of-illness (COI) approach was used. The primary sources of information for the study included a review of the published literature, a review of published reports and documents, secondary analysis of administrative datasets, and information collected directly from various federal and provincial government programs and services. The literature review included publications up to April 2005 reported in MedLine, EMBASE and PsychINFO. Where specific information from a province was not available, the method of mean substitution from other provinces was used. Costs incurred by various levels/departments of government were separated into healthcare and non-healthcare costs. Also included in the analysis was the value of lost productivity for premature mortality and morbidity associated with schizophrenia. Sensitivity analysis was used to test major cost assumptions used in the analysis. Where possible, all resource utilization estimates for the financial burden of schizophrenia were obtained for 2004 and are expressed in 2004 Canadian dollars (CAN$).

Results: The estimated number of persons with schizophrenia in Canada in 2004 was 234,305. The direct healthcare and non-healthcare costs were estimated to be CAN$2.02 billion in 2004. There were 374 deaths attributed to schizophrenia. This combined with the high unemployment rate due to schizophrenia resulted in an additional productivity morbidity and mortality loss estimate of CAN$4.83 billion, for a total cost estimate in 2004 of CAN$6.85 billion. By far the largest component of the total cost estimate was for productivity losses associated with morbidity in schizophrenia (70% of total costs) and the results showed that total cost estimates were most sensitive to alternative assumptions regarding the additional unemployment due to schizophrenia in Canada.

Conclusions: Despite significant improvements in the past decade in pharmacotherapy, programs and services available for patients with schizophrenia, the economic burden of schizophrenia in Canada remains high. The most significant factor affecting the cost of schizophrenia in Canada is lost productivity due to morbidity. Programs targeted at improving patient symptoms and functioning to increase workforce participation has the potential to make a significant contribution in reducing the cost of this severe mental illness in Canada.

Source: Current Medical Research and Opinion, Volume 21, Number 12, December 2005, pp. 2017-2028(12)


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