Personal healthcare costs borne by younger people living with arthritis in Australia: An exploratory observational study

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Arthritis is a long-term musculoskeletal disease, requiring ongoing management. However, the financial burden of managing arthritis is under-explored and is yet to be quantified from the perspective of individuals with the condition. Using an exploratory observational design, this study aimed to quantify arthritis-related costs borne by a sample of working-age adults aged 18–50 years who responded to the study advertisement. Participants completed a weekly cost diary for 6 weeks, detailing their personal non-reimbursed (out-of-pocket) arthritis-related costs. Financial distress was measured using the InCharge Financial Distress/Financial Well-Being Scale. Costs data were analysed descriptively. Mann–Whitney U tests were used to examine relationships between residential location or employment status and out-of-pocket costs. Linear regression and Spearman's rho were used to estimate relationships between age or years since diagnosis and out-of-pocket costs, and between out-of-pocket costs and financial distress respectively. Sixteen adults (median age 40 years, 100% female) with a range of arthritis conditions (median (IQR): 8 (7.5) years since diagnosis) including rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, psoriatic arthritis, and ankylosing spondylitis completed the six-week cost diary. All participants reported out-of-pocket expenditure related to arthritis. The median per-person expenditure across the 6 weeks was AUD 1635. The highest reported costs per participant across the 6 weeks were for medical expenses (median AUD 197) and allied health appointments (median AUD 190). In total, the cohort spent AUD 15,272 across the study period. Perceived financial distress was high: median (IQR) financial distress 7 (2.25) on a 1 (lowest) to 10 (highest) scale. Positive relationships between age and costs, and between costs and financial distress were identified. These findings help us understand fiscal expenditure and related distress relevant to younger individuals with arthritis, and can be used to raise awareness of their financial concerns.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e2540-e2548
Number of pages9
JournalHealth and Social Care in the Community
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2022

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