Cost of Illness Studies

Another type of economic evidence that appears in the medical literature comes from cost of illness studies. Cost of illness studies, also commonly known as burden of illness studies, set out to determine the overall resource consumption associated with a specific illness. Often this is presented in monetary terms and is focused on health care resources. Originally, cost of illness studies covered all major diseases for the purposes of advocating to government for additional health care spending. Lately, studies have been narrower in scope and used for awareness of a specific disease. The purpose of disease-specific cost of illness studies is often to present the case for additional research, funding for care or raise awareness for a specific disease. Table 1 outlines the strengths and weaknesses of each type of economic study design.

Table: Strengths and Weaknesses of Varying Types of Economic Evaluations

With economic evidence playing an increasing role in health care decision making and government advocacy, there is a need for a review of the current state of economic research in the area of SCI. The purpose of this review was to describe the breadth of research, and to identify the current limitations and areas for future studies relevant to the SCI population.

Specifically, this chapter will review the economic evaluation studies (cost-effectiveness, cost-utility and cost-benefit) and cost of illness studies in SCI.