Global economic burden of schizophrenia: a systematic review

Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat. 2016 Feb 16;12:357-73. doi: 10.2147/NDT.S96649. eCollection 2016.


Background: Schizophrenia is one of the top 25 leading causes of disability worldwide in 2013. Despite its low prevalence, its health, social, and economic burden has been tremendous, not only for patients but also for families, caregivers, and the wider society. The magnitude of disease burden investigated in an economic burden study is an important source to policymakers in decision making. This study aims to systematically identify studies focusing on the economic burden of schizophrenia, describe the methods and data sources used, and summarize the findings of economic burden of schizophrenia.

Methods: A systematic review was performed for economic burden studies in schizophrenia using four electronic databases (Medline, EMBASE, PsycINFO, and EconLit) from inception to August 31, 2014.

Results: A total of 56 articles were included in this review. More than 80% of the studies were conducted in high-income countries. Most studies had undertaken a retrospective- and prevalence-based study design. The bottom-up approach was commonly employed to determine cost, while human capital method was used for indirect cost estimation. Database and literature were the most commonly used data sources in cost estimation in high-income countries, while chart review and interview were the main data sources in low and middle-income countries. Annual costs for the schizophrenia population in the country ranged from US$94 million to US$102 billion. Indirect costs contributed to 50%-85% of the total costs associated with schizophrenia. The economic burden of schizophrenia was estimated to range from 0.02% to 1.65% of the gross domestic product.

Conclusion: The enormous economic burden in schizophrenia is suggestive of the inadequate provision of health care services to these patients. An informed decision is achievable with the increasing recognition among public and policymakers that schizophrenia is burdensome. This results in better resource allocation and the development of policy-oriented research for this highly disabling yet under-recognized mental health disease.

Keywords: cost of illness; economic burden; schizophrenia; systematic review.

Publication types

  • Review