Health and Economic Burden Rises Before an IPF Diagnosis, Study Finds

Alice Melão, MSc avatar

by Alice Melão, MSc |

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Pre-diagnosis IPF burden

Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) increases a person’s health and economic burden years before it is diagnosed, a multi-year Canadian study shows.

The research, “Clinical and economic burden of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis in Quebec, Canada,” appeared in the journal ClinicoEconomics and Outcomes Research.

IPF is a progressive disease that diminishes a person’s quality of life. In addition to the health burden it represents, it can be expensive.

To better inform patients, doctors and policy-makers, a research team decided to evaluate the health and economic burdens of IPF in Quebec Province. They evaluated records collected between 2006 and 2011 in the province, which represents 23% of Canada’s population.

A total of 8,683 cases of IPF were reported in the five years, with an annual incidence rate of 21.7 people per 100,000. The average age at diagnosis was 74.5 years, and about 57% of patients were men.

The IPF patients had a three-year survival rate of 37.4% and a mean survival time after  diagnosis of 523 days, or about 1.4 years.

On average, IPF patients had four other diseases. The most common were other pulmonary diseases (81%), pulmonary infections (56%), and coronary artery disease without myocardial infarction (55%).

An analysis of healthcare resource use showed that IPF patients began needing more health support several years before their diagnosis. The typical pattern was resource use rising in the first year after diagnosis, then remaining high for the next two years.

Consistent with this increase in health resources, costs increased before and after an IPF diagnosis, and stayed high the next two years. Five years before their diagnosis, patients were spending $2,721 a year, and two years before their diagnosis $7,049. The figures were $12,978 two years after the diagnosis and $8,267 at three years after the diagnosis.

The team said the findings suggested that previous studies have underestimated the economic burden of IPF.

“Healthcare resource utilization and costs of IPF increase many years prior to diagnosis. Incorporating multiyear annual costs before and after diagnosis results in a higher estimate of the economic burden of IPF than previous studies using a 1-year time frame,” they concluded.

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