Cost-of-illness of patients with lymphedema.

Authors: Gutknecht M, Herberger K, Klose K, Purwins S, Dietz D, Blome C, Augustin M


J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2017 Jun 29;:

BACKGROUND: Chronic lymphedema is characterized by a continuous need for medical treatment, many comorbidities, and impaired quality of life. In Germany, about 4.5 million patients are affected by lymphedema. Thus, lymphedema causes high direct and indirect costs, even more in case of complications such as erysipelas and ulcers.
OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to determinate the costs of illness of community lymphedema patients living in the metropolitan area of Hamburg, Germany.
METHODS: An observational cross-sectional study in patients with lymphedema and combined lipolymphedema of any origin was performed analysing direct and indirect costs for the patients, the statutory health insurance, and society.
RESULTS: In total, 348 patients (90.8% female) were examined and interviewed. The mean age of the patients was 57.3 ± 14.5 years. On average, the total costs per patient and year were € 5784, of which € 4445 (76.0%) were direct costs and € 1338 indirect costs. Within the direct medical costs, € 3796 were accounted for the statutory health insurances and € 649 for the patient. The main cost drivers were costs for manual decongestive therapy and disability costs.
CONCLUSION: Chronic lymphedema is associated with high direct and indirect costs. This community based study is the first cost analysis of chronic lymph- and combined lipolymphedema giving insights to economic impact of lymphedema treatment. There is a high need for structured disease management programs in order to diagnose and treat lymphedema early and to avoid complications, thus limiting socioeconomic burden. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.



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