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Original Articles

The Economic Burden of Personality Disorders in Mental Health Care

Djøra I. Soeteman, MS; Leona Hakkaart-van Roijen, PhD; Roel Verheul, PhD; and Jan J. V. Busschbach, PhD

Published: February 14, 2008

Article Abstract

Objective: Some evidence suggests that personality disorders are associated with a high economic burden due to, for example, a high demand on psychiatric, health, and social care services. However, state-of-the-art cost studies for the broad range of personality disorder diagnoses are lacking. The present study examines the direct medical costs, as well as the indirect costs, of patients seeking mental health treatment with DSM-IV personality disorders.

Method: The 1740 subjects included in this study were recruited from March 2003 to March 2006 from 6 different mental health care institutes in the Netherlands specializing in the psychotherapeutic treatment of personality disorders. The direct and indirect costs were assessed using the Trimbos and Institute for Medical Technology Assessment Questionnaire on Costs Associated with Psychiatric Illness. Personality disorders were diagnosed using the Structured Interview for DSM-IV Personality.

Results: The mean total costs of the personality disorder group in the 12 months prior to treatment were 11,126 euros per patient. Two thirds (66.5%) of these costs consisted of direct medical costs, while the remaining costs were related to productivity losses. Borderline and obsessive-compulsive personality disorders were uniquely associated with increased mean total costs.

Conclusions: Treatment-seeking patients with personality disorders pose a high economic burden on society, a burden substantially higher than that found in, for instance, depression or generalized anxiety disorder. These high societal costs present a strong argument in favor of prioritizing effective personality disorder treatments in reimbursement decisions.

Volume: 69

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