Costs for irritable bowel, chronic idiopathic constipation patients higher than general population

By Liz Meszaros, MDLinx
Published March 30, 2017

Key Takeaways

Outpatient costs may be significantly higher in patients with irritable bowel syndrome with constipation (IBS-C) and chronic idiopathic constipation (CIC). In particular, emergency room (ER) costs in IBS-C patients and imaging costs in those with CIC are higher compared with those of the general population, according to study results published in the Journal of Medical Economics.

“Patients with constipation account for 3.1 million US physician visits a year, but care costs for patients with IBS-C or CIC compared to the general public have received little study. The study aim was to describe healthcare utilization and compare medical costs for patients with IBS-C or CIC vs matched controls from a community-based sample,” noted Linda Herrick, PhD, RN, FAAN, and fellow researchers from the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN.

Therefore, they conducted this nested, case-control sample study, including IBS-C and CIC cases and controls (1:2) for each group from Olmsted County, MN, respondents to a community-based survey of gastrointestinal symptoms from 2008 who received their health care from a Rochester Epidemiology Project (REP) provider.

Using REP health care use data, Herrick et al. compared unadjusted and adjusted standardized costs during the 2- and 10-year periods before the survey in 115 IBS-C patients matched to 230 controls, and 365 CIC patients matched to 730 controls. Researchers chose 2 and 10 years based on the episodic but long-term course of these conditions.

After adjusting for co-morbidities, age, and sex, they found that during the 2-year period before the survey, outpatient costs for IBS-C patients were significantly higher compared with those for controls ($6,800 vs $4,242, respectively), as were outpatient costs for CIC patients compared to their controls ($6,284 vs $5,254).

Further, during the 10-year period before the survey was implemented, IBS-C outpatient and ER costs were significantly higher than controls ($25,448 vs $21,024, respectively; and $6,892 vs $3,962). Finally, over the 10-year period, an unadjusted data analyses of cases vs controls showed significantly higher imaging costs in IBS-C cases, and significantly higher procedure costs for CIC cases.

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