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Child health costs for behavioral disorders similar to those for physical illnesses

Children with behavioral disorders incur similar overall health care costs to children with physical disorders according to a recent study. Among behavioral disorders, costs were not uniform; anxiety and depression cost twice as much as other common behavioral disorders, mainly as a result of inpatient hospitalizations. This study, by researchers from The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania, appears in the electronic pages of the December issue of the journal Pediatrics.

"Examining healthcare costs, for children especially, is an increasingly important issue," said James P. Guevara, M.D., general pediatrician at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and primary investigator of this study. "This study shows that children with behavioral disorders incur similar healthcare costs to those with physical disorders, a recent observation which is important knowledge for the healthcare industry."

The retrospective cohort study looked at children ranging in age from 2 to 18 years old whose families participated in the 1996 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey. Children with common behavioral disorders were identified using diagnostic codes determined from household interviews. Researchers compared them to two control groups healthy children and children with common chronic physical disorders such as asthma, epilepsy and diabetes.

Among the 3,955 eligible children, almost seven percent were identified with a behavioral disorder, including attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), depression, anxiety, conduct disorder and oppositional-defiant disorder. Children with behavioral disorders incurred greater overall expenditures than healthy children ($1468 vs. $710), but costs were similar to those of children with physical disorders ($1468 vs. $1071). Children with behavioral disorders incurred greater expenditures for office-based visits and prescription medications than children in either control gro
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Contact: Joey Marie McCool
McCool@email.chop.edu
267-426-6070
Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
8-Dec-2003


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