Methodological considerations in cost of illness studies on Alzheimer disease

Health Econ Rev. 2012 Sep 11;2(1):18. doi: 10.1186/2191-1991-2-18.


Cost-of-illness studies (COI) can identify and measure all the costs of a particular disease, including the direct, indirect and intangible dimensions. They are intended to provide estimates about the economic impact of costly disease. Alzheimer disease (AD) is a relevant example to review cost of illness studies because of its costliness.The aim of this study was to review relevant published cost studies of AD to analyze the method used and to identify which dimension had to be improved from a methodological perspective. First, we described the key points of cost study methodology. Secondly, cost studies relating to AD were systematically reviewed, focussing on an analysis of the different methods used. The methodological choices of the studies were analysed using an analytical grid which contains the main methodological items of COI studies. Seventeen articles were retained. Depending on the studies, annual total costs per patient vary from $2,935 to $52, 954. The methods, data sources, and estimated cost categories in each study varied widely. The review showed that cost studies adopted different approaches to estimate costs of AD, reflecting a lack of consensus on the methodology of cost studies. To increase its credibility, closer agreement among researchers on the methodological principles of cost studies would be desirable.