Objectives: To measure the economic burden of cerebral palsy (CP) in China is to provide information on CP's societal impacts to policy-makers.
Methods: The economic burden of CP includes direct healthcare costs, direct non-healthcare costs, developmental costs and indirect costs such as productivity loss. The incidence approach is employed to estimate the lifetime economic burden of a new CP birth and that of all new cases in China in 2003. Caregivers of 319 CP patients were interviewed in specialty hospitals in five cities in 2004. Average expenditure and utilization rates for different services by age groups from this sample were obtained to estimate the economic burden of CP. Chinese CP patients' life expectancy and survival rate were simulated with reference to Australian data with Human Development Index adjustment.
Results: From the societal perspective, the average lifetime economic burden of a new CP case in China was US$ 67,044 in 2003, and the life-span total economic loss due to all new CP cases in 2003 amounted to US$ 2-4 billion. Indirect (productivity) costs are responsible for 93% of total economic loss, and direct healthcare and developmental costs make up 3% each. There are several factors which contribute to the extraordinarily high economic burden of CP, including productivity loss, reduced life expectancy, dependency, progressive deterioration of motor physical function, and recurrent use of rehabilitation services.
Conclusion: The economic burden of CP in China is substantial for the family of a CP patient, as well as to society. Public provision and financing of necessary preventive and rehabilitative services is urgently needed to mitigate this heavy burden for patients and their families.