Societal & Financial Cost of Illness


Reduced social and economic costs of acute or chronic disease or other health conditions. 


Societal and financial cost of illness is manifested by general productivity losses, lesser quality of life, lowered resources, and other phenomena. New procedures, interventions, policies, and other benefits from translational science hold the potential to alleviate undue societal and community burden, provide opportunities for reallocation of resources, and increase quality of life.


Advice from authors on searching for information:

Determining measurable changes to the societal costs of illness from particular innovations in translational science are generally long-term or not directly observable. Researchers are encouraged to gather data early on the indirect costs of the condition(s) affected by shorter-term benefits such as patents or policies, and establish a routine of collecting data at fixed-time intervals to demonstrate societal impact.

Resources & Data

Organizations, repositories, websites, and other sources where you can find more information:

Global Burden of Disease (GBD)
The Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study (GBD) is the single largest and most detailed scientific effort ever conducted to quantify levels and trends in health. Led by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington, it is truly a global effort, with over 1,000 researchers from more than 100 countries participating with the effort.

Global Health Observatory Data (GHO) 
The GHO data repository contains an extensive list of indicators, which can be selected by theme or through a multi-dimension query functionality. It is the World Health Organization’s main health statistics repository.

Medical Expenditure Panel Surveys (MEPS)
Since 1996, the MEPS have collected data on health care services and their costs from individuals, employers, and providers.  

Data Limitations

Challenges you may encounter while searching for information:

Measurable changes to the societal costs of illness are not always directly observable. Societal cost of illness research by nature is focused on a specific disorder, disease, or condition such as depression, low back pain, or schizophrenia. Depending on the locale, organizations, and other administrative jurisdictional offices may collect and curate data on expenditures on specific disorders, diseases, or conditions which researchers can then analyze for changes. Data may not be available for all disorders, diseases, or conditions.


Articles, books, and other publications in translational science using the indicator:

Boccuzzi S. Indirect Health Care Costs. In: Weintraub WS, editor. Cardiovascular Health Care Economics. Contemporary Cardiology. Totowa, NJ: Humana Press; 2003.

Jo C. Cost-of-illness studies: concepts, scopes, and methods.  Clin Mol Hepatol. 2014 Dec;20(4):327-37. doi:10.3350/cmh.2014.20.4.327.  

Rice D, Hodgson T, Kopstein A. The economic costs of illness: A replication and update.  Health Care Financ Rev. 1985 Fall;7(1):61-80.

Hermus G, Stonebridge C, Dinh T, et al. The Conference Board of Canada. Reducing the Health Care and Societal Costs of Disease: The Role of Pharmaceuticals. Canada: The Conference Board of Canada; 2013. 

Case Studies

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