Friday, 30 December 2011

Cost of Neurological Disease in Europe

Olesen J et al. The economic cost of brain disorders in Europe.Eur J Neurol. 2012 Jan;19(1):155-162.

Background and purpose:  In 2005, we presented for the first time overall estimates of annual costs for brain disorders (mental and neurologic disorders) in Europe. This new report presents updated, more accurate, and comprehensive 2010 estimates for 30 European countries.

Methods:  One-year prevalence and annual cost per person of 19 major groups of disorders are based on 'best estimates' derived from systematic literature reviews by panels of experts in epidemiology and health economics. Our cost estimation model was populated with national statistics from Eurostat to adjust to 2010 values, converting all local currencies to Euros (€), imputing cost for countries where no data were available, and aggregating country estimates to purchasing power parity-adjusted estimates of the total cost of brain disorders in Europe in 2010.

Results:Total European 2010 cost of brain disorders was €798 billion, of which direct health care cost 37%, direct non-medical cost 23%, and indirect cost 40%. Average cost per inhabitant was €5.550. The European average cost per person with a disorder of the brain ranged between €285 for headache and €30,000 for neuromuscular disorders. Total annual cost per disorder (in billion € 2010) was as follows: addiction 65.7; anxiety disorders 74.4; brain tumor 5.2; child/adolescent disorders 21.3; dementia 105.2; eating disorders 0.8; epilepsy 13.8; headache 43.5; mental retardation 43.3; mood disorders 113.4; multiple sclerosis 14.6; neuromuscular disorders 7.7; Parkinson's disease 13.9; personality disorders 27.3; psychotic disorders 93.9; sleep disorders 35.4; somatoform disorder 21.2; stroke 64.1; and traumatic brain injury 33.0.

Conclusion:  Our cost model revealed that brain disorders overall are much more costly than previously estimated constituting a major health economic challenge for Europe. Our estimate should be regarded as conservative because many disorders or cost items could not be included because of lack of data.


  1. These are eye-watering sums of money, but they do not come as a surprise.

    The big issue regarding MS is the actuality of the disease mainly affecting young people, and rendering some of them incapable of economic activity for long durations of their lives. This is a big burden on society but one cannot simply not address the economic implications of, for example, a 26 year-old person becoming disabled and thus not being able to work, care for themselves or earn money, and therefore relying on the state for help. Furthermore, it is often the families of these young people who have to step in and fill the void of governmental ineptitude, regularly dipping into their own funds and time to support people with MS. The cost to society is two-pronged; ultimately it is the person with the disease that suffers the most.

    I do not have MS but my kid-sister does. As a family we support and tend to her needs. We are committed to helping her and it is often through our collective earnings that we can provide her with the best care available. There is a huge question mark hanging over the sustainability of Britain being able to care for chronically ill patients. In my opinion, I do believe that within my lifetime there will be legislation supporting assisted suicide in Britain in order to rectify the economic balance. These diseases are becoming too costly to society and it will reach soon breaking point. It will not surprise me if the subliminal reasons for introducing assisted dying are fuelled by cost rather than ethical reasons.

    I do not support the concept of legal dying, but I do want the government to provide greater funds to dealing with the long-term impact of MS. More funds should be allocated to speeding up research. According to Professor Charles ffrench-Constant, curing MS damage is, now, a feasible and tangible prospect. We should run with such a notion and provide the resources needed to expedite it.

    That is my layman opinon.

  2. Over 8 million people are living in England with a neurological condition, but public awareness of neurological conditions remains extremely limited and neurological conditions are not being prioritised in the development of services or in the allocation of research funding.

    It is becoming increasingly important for supporting organisations to collaborate at a local and national level to improve outcomes for people with a neurological conditions like MS. By working together we can make it impossible for this huge and disadvantaged group to be ignored any longer.

  3. Well said, Carol. It seems that neurological conditions do not have the 'tug at the heartstrings' factor that makes people have sympathy or empathy as they do for eg chldren's conditions or some other causes. Yes, it means campaigners need to 'get loud' about these conditions, including MS. Maybe if society in general was m ore aware of the impact - including financial - to society as a whole, not just individuals and their families, more financial suppport would be forthcoming. And some of this money could be channeled into research. As the previous poster says, enormous strides are being taken by researchers such as Profs ffrench-constant, Franklin - not forgetting the hard working team at the Blizard Institute. Best wishes to all in 2012...


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