The Effects of Patient Function and Dependence on Costs of Care in Alzheimer's Disease

Geriatric Research, Education, and Clinical Center, Program of Research on Serious Physical and Mental Illness, James J Peters Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Bronx, New York 10468, USA.
Journal of the American Geriatrics Society (Impact Factor: 4.57). 08/2008; 56(8):1497-503. DOI: 10.1111/j.1532-5415.2008.01798.x
Source: PubMed


To estimate incremental effects of patients' dependence and function on costs of care during the early stages of Alzheimer's disease (AD) and to compare strengths of their relationships with different cost components.
Multicenter, cross-sectional, observational study.
Three university hospitals in the United States.
One hundred seventy-nine community-living patients with probable AD, with modified Mini-Mental State Examination scores of 30 or higher.
Patients' dependence was measured using the Dependence Scale (DS). Functional capacity was measured using the Blessed Dementia Rating Scale (BDRS). Total cost was measured by summing direct medical costs and informal costs. Direct medical costs included costs of hospitalization, outpatient treatment and procedures, assistive devices, and medications. Informal costs were estimated from time spent helping with basic and instrumental activities of daily living for up to three caregivers per patient using national average hourly earnings as wage rate.
DS and BDRS were associated with higher total cost; a 1-point increase in DS was associated with a $1,832 increase in total cost, and a 1-point increase in BDRS was associated with a $3,333 increase. Examining component costs separately identified potential differences between DS and BDRS. A 1-point increase in BDRS was associated with a $1,406 increase in direct medical cost. A 1-point increase in DS was associated with a $1,690 increase in informal cost.
Patients' dependence and function related differently to direct medical and informal cost, suggesting that measures of function and dependence provided unique information for explaining variations in cost of care for patients with AD, highlighting the value in measuring both constructs.

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    • "Much of the care that dementia patients need is provided outside the formal health care system. Formal home and institutional health care services provide only about 25% of the care for individuals with Alzheimer " s disease; nonprofessional family and friends provide the rest (Schubert et al. 2008; Zhu et al. 2008). In 2009, 11 million unpaid caregivers provided 12.9 billion hours of informal care to individuals with AD and other types of dementias (Alzheimer " s Association. "

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    ABSTRACT: While clinical endpoints provide important information on the efficacy of treatment in controlled conditions, they often are not relevant to decision makers trying to gauge the potential economic impact or value of new treatments. Therefore, it is often necessary to translate changes in cognition, function or behavior into changes in cost or other measures, which can be problematic if not conducted in a transparent manner. The Dependence Scale (DS), which measures the level of assistance a patient requires due to AD-related deficits, may provide a useful measure of the impact of AD progression in a way that is relevant to patients, providers and payers, by linking clinical endpoints to estimates of cost effectiveness or value. The aim of this analysis was to test the association of the DS to clinical endpoints and AD-related costs. The relationship between DS score and other endpoints was explored using the Predictors Study, a large, multi-center cohort of patients with probable AD followed annually for four years. Enrollment required a modified Mini-Mental State Examination (mMMS) score >or= 30, equivalent to a score of approximately >or= 16 on the MMSE. DS summated scores (range: 0- 15) were compared to measures of cognition (MMSE), function (Blessed Dementia Rating Scale, BDRS, 0-17), behavior, extrapyramidal symptoms (EPS), and psychotic symptoms (illusions, delusions or hallucinations). Also, estimates for total cost (sum of direct medical cost, direct non-medical cost, and cost of informal caregivers' time) were compared to DS scores. For the 172 patients in the analysis, mean baseline scores were: DS: 5.2 (SD: 2.0), MMSE: 23.0 (SD: 3.5), BDRS: 2.9 (SD: 1.3), EPS: 10.8%, behavior: 28.9% psychotic symptoms: 21.1%. After 4 years, mean scores were: DS: 8.9 (SD: 2.9), MMSE: 17.2 (SD: 4.7), BDRS: 5.2 (SD: 1.4), EPS: 37.5%, behavior: 60.0%, psychotic symptoms: 46.7%. At baseline, DS scores were significantly correlated with MMSE (r=-0.299, p < 0.01), BDRS (r=0.610, p < 0.01), behavior (r=.2633, p=0.0005), EPS (r=0.1910, p=0.0137) and psychotic symptoms (r=0.253, p < 0.01); and at 4-year follow-up, DS scores were significantly correlated with MMSE (r=-0.3705, p=0.017), BDRS (r=0.6982, p < 0.001). Correlations between DS and behavior (-0.0085, p=0.96), EPS (r=0.3824, p=0.0794), psychotic symptoms (r=0.130, ns) were not statistically significant at follow-up. DS scores were also significantly correlated with total costs at baseline (r=0.2615, p=0.0003) and follow-up (r=0.3359, p=0.0318). AD is associated with deficits in cognition, function and behavior, thus it is imperative that these constructs are assessed in trials of AD treatment. However, assessing multiple endpoints can lead to confusion for decision makers if treatments do not impact all endpoints similarly, especially if the measures are not used typically in practice. One potential method for translating these deficits into a more meaningful outcome would be to identify a separate construct, one that takes a broader view of the overall impact of the disease. Patient dependence, as measured by the DS, would appear to be a reasonable choice - it is associated with the three clinical endpoints, as well as measures of cost (medical and informal), thereby providing a bridge between measures of clinical efficacy and value in a single, transparent measure.
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