Background: The high costs of health and social care support for stroke survivors, and the development of new service arrangements, have concentrated growing attention on economic issues. However, there are few data on costs and their association with levels of disability.
Methods: Secondary analyses of data from the OPCS (Office of Population Censuses and Surveys) Surveys of Disability conducted in the mid-1980s were used to examine service utilization and costs for more than 1000 people who have had a stroke. Costs were estimated for all health and social care services. Regression analyses examined the cost-disability association in the context of other covariates for people living in private households.
Results: Disability problems were common among stroke survivors, particularly in relation to locomotion, self-care and holding. Among people living alone, the major contributors to costs were in-patient care (Pound Sterling 27 per week) and home help (Pound Sterling 30 per week). Among people living with others, in-patient hospital care was also a major cost (Pound Sterling 28 per week). Other services costing more than Pound Sterling 5 per week were general practitioner consultations, hospital out-patient care and day centre attendances. Resource use patterns varied considerably. Costs were associated with severity of disability, time since stroke and whether the person was living alone. Looking at the overall balance of care, a greater proportion of stroke survivors with severe disability were resident in communal establishments.
Conclusion: The analyses provide a baseline from which more recent local studies and evaluations can be compared. Key issues for economic studies of stroke are the inclusion of a broad range of services, a reasonable duration of follow-up and consideration of the impact of the substitution of informal for formal services.