Pain-related health care costs for long-term care residents
Lix, Lisa M.
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Abstract Background We tested for differences in direct health care costs among long-term care (LTC) residents age 65 and older with clinically significant pain (CSP) and with no pain or non-daily mild pain (NP/NDMP). We are not aware of any other large scale investigation that examined the cost of pain in LTC environments. Methods Population-based administrative health data from Saskatchewan, Canada for 2004 to 2015 were used to compare direct health care costs for CSP and NP/NDMP groups up to one year after admission to LTC. Total accumulated costs for hospitalization, physician services, LTC, and prescription drugs were calculated in 2015 Canadian dollars. Group differences were tested using generalized linear models with generalized estimating equations. Results Amongst 24,870 LTC residents, 8289 (33.3%) were censored due to death or discharge in the 365-day study observation period. Of the 16,581 (66.7%) observed residents, 5683 (34.3%) had CSP at admission. Residents (66.3% female) had a mean age of 85 years (SD = 7.4). The mean annual total direct health care cost per resident was higher among the CSP group (CAD $8063) than the NP/NDMP group (CAD $6455). This difference was found even after including LTC costs, and for each cost component (i.e., CSP residents had higher hospitalization, physician, and prescription drug costs). Similar results were obtained after controlling for demographics, comorbidities, physical and cognitive impairment, prior health care costs, and facility characteristics. Conclusion The higher costs incurred by CSP residents compared to NP/NDMP residents are likely underestimated because pain problems are often missed in residents with dementia, who comprise a large portion of the LTC population. Improved pain care can reduce such costs and improve quality of life.