Back to Journals » ClinicoEconomics and Outcomes Research » Volume 5

Health care costs before and after diagnosis of depression in patients with unexplained pain: a retrospective cohort study using the United Kingdom General Practice Research Database

Authors Reed C, Hong J, Novick D, Lenox-Smith A, Happich M

Received 19 September 2012

Accepted for publication 5 November 2012

Published 14 January 2013 Volume 2013:5 Pages 37—47

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/CEOR.S38323

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 3


Catherine Reed,1 Jihyung Hong,2 Diego Novick,1 Alan Lenox-Smith,3 Michael Happich4

1Global Health Outcomes, Eli Lilly and Company, Windlesham, Surrey, UK; 2Personal Social Services Research Unit, London School of Economics and Political Science, London, UK; 3Eli Lilly UK, Basingstoke, UK; 4Eli Lilly and Company, Bad Homburg, Germany

Purpose: To assess the impact of pain severity and time to diagnosis of depression on health care costs for primary care patients with pre-existing unexplained pain symptoms who subsequently received a diagnosis of depression.
Patients and methods: This retrospective cohort study analyzed 4000 adults with unexplained pain (defined as painful physical symptoms [PPS] without any probable organic cause) and a subsequent diagnosis of depression, identified from the UK General Practice Research Database using diagnostic codes. Patients were categorized into four groups based on pain severity (milder or more severe; based on number of pain-relief medications and use of opioids) and time to diagnosis of depression (≤1 year or >1 year from PPS index date). Annual health care costs were calculated (2009 values) and included general practitioner (GP) consultations, secondary care referrals, and prescriptions for pain-relief medications for the 12 months before depression diagnosis and in the subsequent 2 years. Multivariate models of cost included time period as a main independent variable, and adjusted for age, gender, and comorbidities.
Results: Total annual health care costs before and after depression diagnosis for the four patient groups were higher for the groups with more severe pain (£819–£988 versus £565–£628; P < 0.001 for all pairwise comparisons) and highest for the group with more severe pain and longer time to depression diagnosis in the subsequent 2 years (P < 0.05). Total GP costs were highest in the group with more severe pain and longer time to depression diagnosis both before and after depression diagnosis (P < 0.05). In the second year following depression diagnosis, this group also had the highest secondary care referral costs (P < 0.01). The highest drug costs were in the groups with more severe pain (P < 0.001), although costs within each group were similar before and after depression diagnosis.
Conclusion: Among patients with unexplained pain symptoms, significant pain in combination with longer time from pain symptoms to depression diagnosis contribute to higher costs for the UK health care system.

Keywords: depression, pain, cost, GPRD, UK

Creative Commons License This work is published and licensed by Dove Medical Press Limited. The full terms of this license are available at https://www.dovepress.com/terms.php and incorporate the Creative Commons Attribution - Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License. By accessing the work you hereby accept the Terms. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed. For permission for commercial use of this work, please see paragraphs 4.2 and 5 of our Terms.

Download Article [PDF]