Hussain SA, Ortendahl JD, Bentley TGK, Harmon AL, Gupta S, Begley CE, Khilfeh I, Knoth RL. The economic burden of caregiving in epilepsy: An estimate based on a survey of US caregivers. Epilepsia. 2020 Feb;61(2):319-329. doi: 10.1111/epi.16429. Epub 2020 Jan 17. PMID: 31953846.
Objective: The burden of caregiving for persons with epilepsy (PWEs) has not been examined previously i the United States. We assessed the clinical impact and direct and indirect economic costs for caregivers of PWEs.
Methods: An internet survey of 500 caregivers of PWEs was conducted from May to July 2015 using a combination of validated instruments and questions designed specifically for this survey. Caregivers were stratified by PWE age (adult/child) and disease severity (low: 0 vs high: 1 + seizures in the prior month). Annual self-reported direct and indirect costs were reported per caregiver and extrapolated to all US caregivers. The economic burden of caregiving for PWEs was defined as the difference between costs for caregivers and the general population.
Results: Caregivers reported that PWEs averaged 11.4 seizures in the prior month. Eighty percent of respondents were female and the average age was 44.3. Since becoming a caregiver, many reported anxiety (52.8%), depression (41.0%), and insomnia (30.8%). Annual mean direct medical costs for caregivers of children with low vs high seizure frequency were $4344 and $10 162, respectively. Costs for caregivers of adult PWEs were $4936 and $8518. Mean indirect costs associated with caregiving for a child with low vs high seizure frequency were $20 529 and $40 137; those for caregivers of an adult were $13 981 and $28 410. The cost estimates are higher vs the general US population; annual per-person healthcare utilization costs were $2740 and productivity loss costs were $5015. When extrapolating to the US population of PWE caregivers, annual costs exceeded $62 billion vs $14 billion for the general population, resulting in a caregiver burden of nearly $48 billion.
Significance: The clinical and economic burden of caregivers for PWE were substantial, and greatest for those caring for children with frequent seizures. The impact on caregivers should be considered when estimating the value of interventions that control epilepsy.