Cost and utilisation of healthcare resources during rehabilitation after ankle fracture are not linked to health insurance, income, gender, or pain: An observational study

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Journal Article
Australian Journal of Physiotherapy, 2008, 54 (3), pp. 201 - 208
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Question: What are the costs and utilisation of healthcare resources, their determinants, and quality of life for people attending outpatient physiotherapy after ankle fracture? Design: Longitudinal observational study. Participants: Ninety-four adults (2 dropouts) following cast removal after isolated ankle fracture attending outpatient physiotherapy at three hospitals in Sydney, Australia. Outcome measures: Costs incurred (direct healthcare costs and out-of-pocket costs) and utilisation of healthcare system resources were measured at 4, 8, 12, 16, 20, and 24 weeks. Quality of life was measured shortly after cast removal and at 4, 12, and 24 weeks. Factors known to influence costs and utilisation in other conditions (private health insurance, income level, gender, and pain) were also measured. Results: The total cost per person was AUD 735 (SD 876) over 24 weeks. Outpatient physiotherapy accounted for the highest costs in both direct healthcare (39%) and out-of-pocket (42%) costs. Less than 20% of participants sought private non-medical care in addition to receiving outpatient physiotherapy. None of the factors investigated had a significant influence on costs and utilisation. Quality of life score improved over the 24 weeks by a mean of 6.1 points out of 45 (95% CI 5.2 to 6.9), with most of the improvement occurring in the domain of independent living. Conclusion: Information on costs and utilisation of healthcare resources can be used to plan health services, eg, the number of physiotherapy sessions required after ankle fracture. Private health insurance, income level, gender, or pain did not influence the costs or the decision behind seeking care over and above publicly-provided physiotherapy. © Australian Physiotherapy Association 2008.
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