Intended for healthcare professionals

Education And Debate Economic Note

Cost of illness studies

BMJ 2000; 320 doi: (Published 13 May 2000) Cite this as: BMJ 2000;320:1335
  1. Sarah Byford, research fellowa,
  2. David J Torgerson, senior research fellowa,
  3. James Raftery, professorb
  1. a Centre for Health Economics, University of York, York YO10 5DD
  2. b Health Economics Facility, Health Services Management Centre, Birmingham B15 2RT
  1. Correspondence to: Sarah Byford

    Cost of illness studies are a type of economic study common in the medical literature, particularly in specialist clinical journals. The aim of a cost of illness study is to identify and measure all the costs of a particular disease, including the direct, indirect, and intangible dimensions. The output, expressed in monetary terms, is an estimate of the total burden of a particular disease to society.1 It is widely believed that estimating the total societal cost of an illness is a useful aid to policy decision making, and indeed organisations such as the World Bank and the World Health Organization commonly use such studies.2 However, cost of illness studies have been the cause of much debate among economists.1 3 4

    Two methods of costing illness exist—the prevalence and incidence …

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