, Volume 52, Issue 8, pp 1520-1527
Date: 28 May 2009

The economic costs of diabetes: a population-based study in Tehran, Iran

Abstract

Aim/hypothesis

The aim of the study was to determine the annual healthcare expenditures of an individual with diabetes in Tehran, between March 2004 and March 2005.

Methods

This prevalence-based ‘cost-of-illness’ study was conducted in two phases. In the first phase, 23,707 randomly selected individuals were interviewed to gather a cohort of participants with diabetes. In the second phase, 710 diabetic patients and 904 age- and sex-matched controls were followed up for 1 year at intervals of 3 months and the direct (physician services, medications and devices, hospitalisation, laboratory, paraclinical and transport) and indirect (loss of productivity) expenditures were recorded. The excess costs of a person with diabetes were estimated through comparison with matched controls. The estimates were also extrapolated to the total population of Tehran and Iran. The costs were converted from the Iranian rial to the US dollar (exchange rate September 2004).

Results

Total annual direct costs of diabetic and control participants were $152.3 ± 14.5 and $52.0 ± 5.8, respectively, which is indicative of 2.92 times higher costs in diabetic patients. The most expensive components of direct costs were medications and devices, and hospitalisation in diabetic patients (28.7% and 28.6%, respectively). Total indirect costs were $39.6 ± 2.4 and $16.7 ± 1.1 in diabetic and non-diabetic individuals. The aggregate annual direct costs of diabetes were estimated to be $112.424 ± 10.732 million and $590.676 ± 65.985 million in Tehran and Iran, respectively. Diabetes complications contributed 53% of the aggregate excess direct costs of diabetes.

Conclusions/interpretation

Diabetes is an expensive medical problem in Iran and planning of national programmes for its control and prevention is necessary.