To provide an overview on the magnitude of the impact of schizophrenia on the healthcare system in Europe and to gain a better understanding on the most important factors influencing the variation of costs.
Studies reporting costs and healthcare utilization among patients with schizophrenia were searched in MEDLINE (via Scopus), EMBASE (via Scopus) and Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews on 19th January 2017.
Twenty-three studies, from the 1075 references initially identified, were included in this review. The annual cost per patient ranged from €533 in Ukraine to €13,704 in the Netherlands. Notably drug costs contributed to less than 25% of the direct healthcare cost per patient in every country, which might be explained by similar pharmaceutical prices among countries due to the reference pricing system applied in Europe. Inpatient costs were the largest component of health service costs in the majority of the countries. Despite methodological heterogeneity across studies, four major themes could be identified (age, severity of symptoms, continuation of treatment/persistence, hospitalization) that have substantial impact on the costs of schizophrenia.
Schizophrenia represents a substantial cost for the healthcare system in Europe driven by the high cost per patient. Substantial savings could potentially be achieved by increasing investment in the following areas: (1) reducing the number of hospitalizations e.g. by increasing the efficiency of outpatient care; (2) working out interventions targeted at specific symptoms; (3) improving patient persistence and adherence in antipsychotic therapy.