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The financial burden of diabetes-related foot disease in Australia: a systematic review.

BACKGROUND: Diabetes-related foot disease (DFD) is a common, costly, and severe complication of diabetes mellitus. DFD is associated with high rates of morbidity and mortality and poses a significant burden on patients, healthcare systems and society. While the detrimental impact of DFD is widely recognised, the precise financial implications of its management in Australia remain unclear due to inconsistent and inconclusive contemporary data. Therefore, the aim of this review was to identify, summarise and synthesise existing evidence to estimate the costs associated with DFD management in Australia.

METHODS: Searches were conducted in MEDLINE, Embase, AMED, CINAHL, Joanna Briggs Institute EBP, and the Cochrane Library from November 2011 to July 2023. Australian studies investigating costs associated with DFD management were eligible for inclusion. Two independent reviewers performed the study selection, data extraction and quality assessment steps. The Consolidated Health Economic Evaluation Reporting Standards (CHEERS 2022) checklist was used to assess study quality. A descriptive analysis was performed due to limited existing evidence and large heterogeneity between study populations to conduct meta-analyses.

RESULTS: Three economic evaluations were included in the review. One study was rated as 'poor', one as 'very good' and one as 'excellent' when assessed against the CHEERS checklist. The estimated cost of DFD management varied between studies and comparisons were not possible due to the different methodological approaches and data sources. The studies were unable to provide an overall cost of DFD with respect to all aspects of care as they did not capture the multi-faceted level of care throughout the entire patient journey between sectors and over time.

CONCLUSION: There is limited contemporary evidence for the costs associated with DFD management within Australia, particularly related to direct costs and resource utilisation. Further research into the economic impact of DFD management is needed to inform optimisation of national service delivery and improve health outcomes for individuals with DFD in Australia. Integrating real-world data on impact of clinical interventions with parallel economic evaluation could be a valuable approach for future research, which would offer a more comprehensive understanding of the clinical and economic outcomes beyond solely model-based evaluations.

TRIAL REGISTRATION: PROSPERO Registration No. CRD42022290910.

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