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BMC Musculoskelet Disord. 2011 Jul 13;12:157. doi: 10.1186/1471-2474-12-157.

The economic burden of musculoskeletal disease in Korea: a cross sectional study.

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Department of Preventive Medicine, College of Medicine, Korea University, Seoul, Korea.



Musculoskeletal diseases are becoming increasingly important due to population aging. However, studies on the economic burden of musculoskeletal disease in Korea are scarce. Therefore, we conducted a population-based study to measure the economic burden of musculoskeletal disease in Korea using nationally representative data.


This study used a variety of data sources such as national health insurance statistics, the Korea Health Panel study and cause of death reports generated by the Korea National Statistical Office to estimate the economic burden of musculoskeletal disease. The total cost of musculoskeletal disease was estimated as the sum of direct medical care costs, direct non-medical care costs, and indirect costs. Direct medical care costs are composed of the costs paid by the insurer and patients, over the counter drugs costs, and other costs such as medical equipment costs. Direct non-medical costs are composed of transportation and caregiver costs. Indirect costs are the sum of the costs associated with premature death and the costs due to productivity loss. Age, sex, and disease specific costs were estimated.


Among the musculoskeletal diseases, the highest costs are associated with other dorsopathies, followed by disc disorder and arthrosis. The direct medical and direct non-medical costs of all musculoskeletal diseases were $4.18 billion and $338 million in 2008, respectively. Among the indirect costs, those due to productivity loss were $2.28 billion and costs due to premature death were $79 million. The proportions of the total costs incurred by male and female patients were 33.8% and 66.2%, respectively, and the cost due to the female adult aged 20-64 years old was highest. The total economic cost of musculoskeletal disease was $6.89 billion, which represents 0.7% of the Korean gross domestic product.


The economic burden of musculoskeletal disease in Korea is substantial. As the Korean population continues to age, the economic burden of musculoskeletal disease will continue to increase. Policy measures aimed at controlling the cost of musculoskeletal disease are therefore required.

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