Hospital care and drug costs from five years before until two years after the diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease in a Finnish nationwide cohort

Scand J Public Health. 2016 Mar;44(2):150-8. doi: 10.1177/1403494815614705. Epub 2015 Nov 9.


Aims: The aim of our study was to investigate costs related to hospital care and drugs utilizing register-based data from five years before until two years after the diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease (AD) in a nationwide cohort.

Methods: Finnish nationwide MEDALZ cohort includes all incident cases with clinically verified diagnosis of AD diagnosed during 2005-2011. The study population included 70,718 persons with AD and age-, gender- and region-of-residence-matched control persons. Data of medical care costs was derived from the prescription register and hospital discharge register. Costs of hospital care were calculated according to Finnish healthcare system unit costs. Costs in six month periods before and after the diagnosis per person-years were analyzed.

Results: Persons with AD had higher mean total medical care costs per person-years starting from 0.5-1 years before the diagnosis of AD and remained at a higher level until two years after the diagnosis. The difference in mean total medical care costs was at its highest at six months after the diagnosis (cost difference €5088). After that, persons with AD had costs that reached approximately double those without AD. Hospital care costs constituted the major share (78-84%) of the total medical care costs in both persons with and without AD, whereas drug costs had a minor role. Increase in drug costs was caused by anti-dementia drugs.

Conclusions: Costs of hospital stays constituted the most significant portion of medical care costs for persons with AD. Further research should be focused on the causes of hospitalization periods.

Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease; cohort studies; healthcare costs; pharmaceutical economics.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alzheimer Disease / drug therapy
  • Alzheimer Disease / economics*
  • Alzheimer Disease / therapy
  • Cohort Studies
  • Drug Costs / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Finland
  • Hospitalization / economics*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Registries
  • Time Factors