Objectives To assess the cost related to caring for Osteoarthritis (OA) patients in Italy and to verify any association between cost and severity expressed in terms of Lequesne Index (LI) score.
Methods The analytic framework of the present study was a prevalence-based Cost of Illness Analysis. The societal perspective was adopted with a 6 months time horizon. Subjects: Eleven rheumatologic centres were selected all over Italy. These recruited and interviewed the first 30 consecutive OA patients presenting to their office with a diagnosis of knee osteoarthritis. To this purpose, a questionnaire was developed so to collect information about: demography, concomitant localisation of OA, LI score, direct and indirect costs. The severity of the disease was assessed at the time of the visit. To investigate the association between cost and severity we used multivariate linear regression techniques.
Results A total of 277 patients were recruited and interviewed. The average age was 65,7 (± 9,8) years, the average LI score was 12,3 (± 4,5) and the 73% were female subjects. In 6 months the burden to society to care for an OA patient was around 1.993 Euro (year 2000 value). Almost 33% of this cost was represented by direct costs and about 67% by indirect costs. In general, the most important component of cost was informal care, followed by productivity losses and direct medical cost. Statistical analysis: The total cost was significantly associated with disease severity (p < 0,001), increasing with increasing severity as measured through LI quartiles.
Conclusion From our results, it appears that interventions reducing LI score are likely to reduce the amount of resources needed to care for OA patients.
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