Introduction As a consequence of increased SLE patients survival, patients with long disease duration represent a significant proportion of our cohorts. This study aims to evaluate health resource use and the 6 months costs in patients with SLE with long disease duration.
Methods The economic evaluation was performed in terms of cost-of-illness analysis as part of a larger study enrolling SLE patients with at least 15 years of disease duration regularly followed at our unit. At enrollment, the following information were collected: disease activity (SLEDAI), organ damage (SLICC-DI score), comorbidities, treatment patterns; in addition to clinical data, patients were required to complete an ad-hoc questionnaire for the collection of facts relevant for the estimation of the economic dimension and covering the previous six-months. Such a time frame was considered to be appropriate as recall period. Direct health (drugs, hospitalizations, emergency visits, specialists visits, laboratory tests and instrumental examination) and non-health costs (transportation and accommodation) as well as indirect costs because of productivity loss were estimated.
Results 51 adult patients with long disease duration were recruited (98% female, mean age 49±11 years, median disease duration 17 years, IQR 15–23). Median (IQR) SLEDAI score was 2 (0–4), median SLICC-DI was 1 (0–2). The median (IQR) direct health costs per patients over the previous 6 months resulted 410€ (201–1687); indirect costs because of productivity lost were 130€ (0–356). The median overall cost to the Society was 473€ (327–2148); the presence of comorbid conditions resulted associated with higher overall cost for the Society (552€ [327–1807] vs 264€ [94–1164] p=0.046); disease activity and damage at enrollment were not associated with costs increase in this cohort.
Conclusions This cohort of patients with long lasting disease is characterised by low disease activity and mild organ damage; in this setting, the disease burden on the single patient and family is significant and the costs to the Society are influenced by the presence of comorbidities.
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