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J Affect Disord. 2006 Feb;90(2-3):181-6. Epub 2005 Dec 13.

Health status, resource consumption, and costs of dysthymia. A multi-center two-year longitudinal study.

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Department of Medicine and Public Health, Section of Psychiatry and Clinical Psychology, University of Verona, Ospedale Policlinico, 37134 Verona, Italy.



In this study we estimated the health status, resource consumption and costs of a large cohort of patients with early and late-onset dysthymia.


The DYSCO (DYSthymia COsts) project is a multi-center observational study which prospectively followed for two years a randomly chosen sample of patients with dysthymia in the Italian primary health care system.


A total of 501 patients were followed for two years; 81% had early-onset dysthymic disorder. During the study, improvement was seen in most domains of the 36-Item Short Form Health Survey (SF-36) questionnaire. Comparison of the SF-36 scores for the two groups showed that only the physical health index significantly differed during the two years. The use of outpatient consultations, laboratory tests and diagnostic procedures was similar in the two groups, but patients with early-onset dysthymia were admitted significantly more than late-onset cases. Hospital admissions were almost entirely responsible for the higher total cost per patient per year of early-onset dysthymia.


A first limitation of this study is that general practitioners were selected on the basis of their willingness to participate, not at random; secondly, no information was collected on concomitant psychiatric comorbidities.


The present study provides the first prospective, long-term data on service use and costs in patients with dysthymia. Differently from patients with early-onset dysthymia, patients with late-onset dysthymia were admitted less and cost less.

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