The main cost drivers in dementia: a systematic review

Int J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2015 Feb;30(2):111-29. doi: 10.1002/gps.4198. Epub 2014 Oct 16.


Objectives: Because of the increasing prevalence of dementia worldwide, combined with limited healthcare expenditures, a better understanding of the main cost drivers of dementia in different care settings is needed.

Methods: A systematic review of cost-of-illness (COI) studies in dementia was conducted from 2003 to 2012, searching the following databases: PubMed (Medline), Cochrane Library, ScienceDirect (Embase) and National Health Service Economic Evaluations Database. Costs (per patient) by care setting were analyzed for total, direct, indirect and informal costs and related to the following: (1) cost perspective and (2) disease severity.

Results: In total, 27 studies from 14 different healthcare systems were evaluated. In the included studies, total annual costs for dementia of up to $70,911 per patient (mixed setting) were estimated (average estimate of total costs = $30,554). The shares of cost categories in the total costs for dementia indicate significant differences for different care settings. Overall main cost drivers of dementia are informal costs due to home based long term care and nursing home expenditures rather than direct medical costs (inpatient and outpatient services, medication).

Conclusions: The results of this review highlight the significant economic burden of dementia for patients, families and healthcare systems and thus are important for future health policy planning. The significant variation of cost estimates for different care settings underlines the need to understand and address the financial burden of dementia from both perspectives. For health policy planning in dementia, future COI studies should follow a quality standard protocol with clearly defined cost components and separate estimates by care setting and disease severity.

Keywords: Alzheimer's disease; care setting; cost of illness; dementia; economics; health policy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Cost of Illness*
  • Delivery of Health Care / economics*
  • Dementia / economics*
  • Health Care Costs*
  • Humans
  • Mental Health Services / economics