Economic burden of gouty arthritis attacks for employees with frequent and infrequent attacks

Popul Health Manag. 2013 Apr;16(2):138-45. doi: 10.1089/pop.2012.0057. Epub 2012 Oct 31.


The objective of this study was to compare episode-related and annual costs and work absence days for employees with <3 versus ≥ 3 annual gout attacks. Human Capital Management Services data (2009-2010) from adult employees with gout (International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision code 274.x) and ≥ 12 months of medical and pharmacy benefits were studied. Outcomes of interest included medical and drug costs, number of emergency department and urgent care visits, number of inpatient days, short- and long-term disability, sick leave, workers' compensation costs, and work absence days. An algorithm based on diagnosis code and antigout medication use identified acute gout treatment episodes. Multivariate analysis compared annual and pre-episode vs. during-episode outcomes for employees with ≥ 3 vs. <3 gout annual attacks. Of 3361 employees with gout, 76 had ≥ 3 attacks; these employees had higher short-term disability costs ($1663 vs. $643, P=0.06) and days (11.68 versus 4.61, P<0.05), more emergency room visits (0.55 vs. 0.23, P<0.0001), and urgent care visits (0.07 vs. 0.04, P<0.01), and lower pharmacy costs ($1677 vs. $1108, P<0.0001) than those with <3 attacks. Medical costs both before ($203 higher) and during attacks ($136 higher) were significantly higher for those with ≥ 3 attacks than for those with <3 attacks. Additionally, a quadratic increasing relationship was found between number of attacks and cost. Frequency of acute gout attacks (≥ 3 episodes per year) among employees with gout was associated with greater short-term disability cost, absence days, and emergency department and urgent care visits, and trends toward higher overall costs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Arthritis, Gouty / economics*
  • Arthritis, Gouty / physiopathology
  • Cost of Illness*
  • Databases, Factual
  • Female
  • Health Benefit Plans, Employee / economics*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Sick Leave / economics*
  • United States