The cost of long-term follow-up of high-risk infants for research studies

Lex W Doyle, Luisa Clucas, Gehan Roberts, Noni Davis, Julianne Duff, Catherine Callanan, Marion McDonald, Peter J Anderson, Jeanie L Y Cheong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Aims: Neonatal intensive care is expensive, and thus it is essential that its long-term outcomes are measured. The costs of follow-up studies for high-risk children who survive are unknown. This study aims to determine current costs for the assessment of health and development of children followed up in our research programme. Methods: Costs were determined for children involved in the research follow-up programme at the Royal Women’s Hospital, Melbourne, over the 6-month period between 1st January 2012 and 30th June 2012. The time required for health professionals involved in assessments in early and later childhood was estimated, and converted into dollar costs. Costs for equipment and data management were added. Estimated costs were compared with actual costs of running the research follow-up programme. Results: A total of 134 children were assessed over the 6-month period. The estimated average cost per child assessed was $1184, much higher than was expected. The estimated cost to assess a toddler was $1149, whereas for an 11-year-old it was $1443, the difference attributable to the longer psychological and paediatric assessments. The actual average cost per child assessed was $1623. The shortfall of $439 between the actual and estimated average costs per child arose chiefly because of the need to pay staff even when participants were late or failed to attend. Conclusions: The average costs of assessing children at each age for research studies are much higher than expected. These data are useful for planning similar long-term follow-up assessments for high-risk children.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1012-1016
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Paediatrics and Child Health
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • cost
  • follow-up
  • high risk
  • infant
  • research

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