BACKGROUND: The majority of patients with major depressive disorder (MDD) have comorbid mental conditions.
OBJECTIVES: Since most cost-of-illness studies correct for comorbidity, this study focuses on mental healthcare utilization and treatment costs in patients with MDD including psychiatric comorbidities in specialist mental healthcare, particularly patients with a comorbid personality disorder (PD).
METHODS: The Psychiatric Case Register North Netherlands contains administrative data of specialist mental healthcare providers. Treatment episodes were identified from uninterrupted healthcare use. Costs were calculated by multiplying care utilization with unit prices (price level year: 2018). Using generalized linear models, cost drivers were investigated for the entire cohort.
RESULTS: A total of 34,713 patients had MDD as a primary diagnosis over the period 2000-2012. The number of patients with psychiatric comorbidities was 24,888 (71.7%), including 13,798 with PD. Costs were highly skewed, with an average ± standard deviation cost per treatment episode of €21,186 ± 74,192 (median €2320). Major cost drivers were inpatient days and daycare days (50 and 28% of total costs), occurring in 12.7 and 12.5% of episodes, respectively. Compared with patients with MDD only (€11,612), costs of patients with additional PD and with or without other comorbidities were, respectively, 2.71 (p < .001) and 2.06 (p < .001) times higher and were 1.36 (p < .001) times higher in patients with MDD and comorbidities other than PD. Other cost drivers were age, calendar year, and first episodes.
CONCLUSIONS: Psychiatric comorbidities (especially PD) in addition to age and first episodes drive costs in patients with MDD. Knowledge of cost drivers may help in the development of future stratified disease management programs.