Economic burden attributable to functional bowel disorders in Iran: a cross-sectional population-based study

Bijan Moghimi-Dehkordi, Mohsen Vahedi, Mohammad Amin Pourhoseingholi, Babak Khoshkrood Mansoori, Azadeh Safaee, Manijeh Habibi, Asma Pourhoseingholi, Mohammad Reza Zali
Journal of Digestive Diseases 2011, 12 (5): 384-92

OBJECTIVE: While few population-based studies on the economic burden of functional bowel disorders (FBD) have been published from developing countries like Iran, this study aimed to estimate their direct and indirect costs for five groups of patients: irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), functional constipation (FC), unspecified-FBD (U-FBD), functional abdominal bloating (FAB) and functional diarrhea (FD).

METHODS: Up to 18,180 adults randomly sampled from Tehran, Iran (2006-2007) were interviewed using two questionnaires based on the Rome III criteria to detect FBD patients and to estimate their medical expenses (such as visiting the doctor, drugs, hospitalization and laboratory tests) and productivity loss in the previous 6 months. All costs were converted to dollar purchasing power parity (PPP$) to facilitate cross-country comparisons.

RESULTS: The mean total 6-month costs were approximately: 160, 147, 103, 96 and 42 PPP$ for IBS, FC, U-FBD, FAB and FD, respectively. The highest proportion of drug consumption was found in IBS patients. The highest mean duration of absence from work was seen in IBS patients (2.26 days). Overall, doctor visit costs accounted for approximately 1/3 of the total costs for FBD, followed by hospitalization. A higher indirect cost of illness was found in IBS (54 PPP$), whereas it was zero in FD.

CONCLUSION: The economic burden of FBD seems to be moderately high in Iran and it imposes a relatively heavy financial burden on the Iranian national health system because of its high prevalence and its impact on quality of life, productivity and waste of resources.

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