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Eur Respir J. 2003 Jun;21(6):1000-6.

The economic impact of preschool asthma and wheeze.

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Leicester Children's Asthma Centre, University of Leicester, Leicester, UK.


The aim of the present study was to determine the economic impact in the UK of wheezing disorders in preschool children. Health, societal and family-borne costs were calculated for a sample of 94 preschool children who attended hospital with a primary diagnosis of wheeze or asthma during 1998/1999. Sample costs were calculated using data from a structured interview schedule and from symptom diaries completed by trial parents, patients' general practice and hospital records, and hospital finance data. Health costs for 1-5-yr-olds in the UK were calculated using data from a postal population survey in the same region. It is estimated that 1-5-yr-old children with wheeze in the UK cost the health service a total of 53 million UK pounds (GBP). The greatest expenditure, 34 million GBP, was for primary care, representing 65.2% of total healthcare costs. Prescription costs represented 20.4% (11 million GBP) of total healthcare costs. Caring for preschool children with wheeze in the UK cost the health service 0.15% of its total budget in 1998/1999. The total costs to society of caring for the 0.88% of preschool children who attended hospital for asthma or wheeze in a year represented a further 2.6 million UK pounds. Primary prevention strategies at the population level promise more cost savings than any attempt at decreasing hospitalisations in those more severely ill.

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