The household economic burden of eating disorders and adherence to treatment in Australia

Publication Type:
Journal Article
BMC Psychiatry, 2014, 14 (1), pp. 338 - ?
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© 2014 Gatt et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. Background: This study investigated the household economic burden of eating disorders and cost-related non-adherence to treatment in Australia. Methods: Multi-centre prospective observational study using a structured questionnaire. Ninety participants were recruited from two clinic settings in New South Wales, Australia and from the community using social media. The primary outcome measures were household economic burden of illness measured in terms of out-of-pocket expenditure, household economic hardship and cost-related non-adherence. Results: The pattern of out-of-pocket expenditure varied by diagnosis, with Bulimia Nervosa associated with the highest total mean expenditure (per three months). Economic hardship was reported in 96.7% of participants and 17.8% reported cost-related non-adherence. Those most likely to report cost-related non-adherence had a longer time since diagnosis. Cost-related non-adherence and higher out-of-pocket expenditure were associated with poorer quality of life, a more threatening perception of the impact of the illness and poor self-reported health. Conclusions: This study is the first to empirically and quantitatively examine the household economic burden of eating disorders from the patient perspective. Results indicate that households experience a substantial burden associated with the treatment and management of an eating disorder. This burden may contribute to maintaining the illness for those who experience cost-related non-adherence and by negatively influencing health outcomes. Current initiatives to implement sustainable and integrated models of care for eating disorders should strive to minimise the economic impact of treatment on families.
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