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Eur J Health Econ. 2004 Feb;5(1):36-45.

Economic valuation of informal care. An overview of methods and applications.

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Department of Health Policy and Management, Erasmus Medical Center, 3000 DR Rotterdam, The Netherlands.


Informal care makes up a significant part of the total amount of care provided to care recipients with chronic and terminal diseases. Still, informal care is often neglected in economic evaluations of health care programs. Probably this is related to the fact that the costs of informal care are to an important extent related to time inputs by relatives and friends of care recipients and time is not easy to value. Development of theoretically sound, yet easily applicable valuation methods is therefore important since ignoring the costs of informal care may lead to undesirable shifts between formal and informal care. Moreover, there is increasing evidence that providing informal care may lead to health problems for the caregiver, both in terms of morbidity and mortality. Until now these health effects have not been incorporated in economic evaluations. More attention for the identification and valuation of the full costs and (health) effects of informal care for the informal caregiver seems needed therefore. This contribution presents a critical evaluation of the available methods to incorporate informal care in economic evaluations.

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