Br J Rheumatol. 1998 Aug; 37(8): 837-47.
Direct cost of rheumatoid arthritis during the first six years: a cost-of-illness study.
Department of Rheumatology and Clinical Immunology, University Hospital Utrecht, The Netherlands.
The objective was to estimate the annual direct disease-related cost of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) during the first 6 yr and to determine which socio-demographic and clinical characteristics relate to these costs. The study population consisted of 424 RA patients who had participated in a (population-based) trial on therapeutic strategies for early RA since 1990 and were not lost to follow-up in April 1996. A questionnaire on costs due to RA was sent to these patients; 363 (86%) completed questionnaires were analysed. The total annual direct cost per patient was estimated by adding up the costs of health care workers, days admitted to care facilities, medication, monitoring for side-effects, alternative medicine, adaptations in the home, devices, and other direct costs such as travelling expenses. The mean annual direct cost due to RA was estimated to be Dfl. 11,550 per patient. An obvious increase in direct cost with increasing disease duration was not found. Patients with higher disease activity exhibited significantly higher costs compared to patients with lower disease activity. A multiple logistic regression model showed that greater disability and lower age increased the odds for high costs. The annual direct cost of RA averaged out at Dfl. 11,550 per patient (i.e. Pound Sterling 3680). A high total direct cost in the first 6 yr of disease is related to severe functional disability and lower age.