Costs for irritable bowel, chronic idiopathic constipation patients higher than general population

Liz Meszaros, MDLinx | March 30, 2017

Outpatient costs may be significantly higher in patients with irritable bowel syndrome with constipation (IBS-C) and chronic idiopathic constipation (CIC). In particular, emergency room (ER) costs in IBS-C patients and imaging costs in those with CIC are higher compared with those of the general population, according to study results published in the Journal of Medical Economics.


IBS-C and CIC patients

Compared with the general population, their health care costs are higher, especially for ER and imaging.

“Patients with constipation account for 3.1 million US physician visits a year, but care costs for patients with IBS-C or CIC compared to the general public have received little study. The study aim was to describe healthcare utilization and compare medical costs for patients with IBS-C or CIC vs matched controls from a community-based sample,” noted Linda Herrick, PhD, RN, FAAN, and fellow researchers from the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN.

Therefore, they conducted this nested, case-control sample study, including IBS-C and CIC cases and controls (1:2) for each group from Olmsted County, MN, respondents to a community-based survey of gastrointestinal symptoms from 2008 who received their health care from a Rochester Epidemiology Project (REP) provider.

Using REP health care use data, Herrick et al. compared unadjusted and adjusted standardized costs during the 2- and 10-year periods before the survey in 115 IBS-C patients matched to 230 controls, and 365 CIC patients matched to 730 controls. Researchers chose 2 and 10 years based on the episodic but long-term course of these conditions.

After adjusting for co-morbidities, age, and sex, they found that during the 2-year period before the survey, outpatient costs for IBS-C patients were significantly higher compared with those for controls ($6,800 vs $4,242, respectively), as were outpatient costs for CIC patients compared to their controls ($6,284 vs $5,254).

Further, during the 10-year period before the survey was implemented, IBS-C outpatient and ER costs were significantly higher than controls ($25,448 vs $21,024, respectively; and $6,892 vs $3,962). Finally, over the 10-year period, an unadjusted data analyses of cases vs controls showed significantly higher imaging costs in IBS-C cases, and significantly higher procedure costs for CIC cases.