Issue: 2014 > February > special article

Estimated hospital health costs of chronic abdominal pain in the Netherlands

L.A.W. Jansen, E.A.H. Knauff, S.S. Tan, M. Löwenberg


Aim: Calculation of the hospital costs of chronic abdominal pain in the Netherlands. Design: Cross-sectional study. Methods: We selected Diagnosis-Related Groups (DRG) of disorders that are associated with chronic abdominal pain from a large teaching hospital and a tertiary referral centre. For each DRG we determined the percentage of patients that can present with abdominal pain. The total costs for both hospitals were calculated using the registered quantity of the DRGs. Each DRG was categorised by somatic and functional origin. The results were subsequently extrapolated to the entire Dutch population demanding hospital care for chronic abdominal pain. Finally, the percentage and associated costs were calculated for patients who had two or more separate diagnoses for
chronic abdominal pain in the field of gastroenterology,
gynaecology, internal medicine and urology. Results: The yearly outpatient and (day) clinical health costs for patients with chronic abdominal pain in the Netherlands were approximately 623 million (gastroenterology
226 million; gynaecology 303 million; internal medicine 63 million; and urology 31 million). Of these diagnoses, 53.6% were related to functional disorders, which accounts for approximately 220 million per year. The yearly costs of patients who had at least two separate diagnoses within one year for chronic abdominal pain were estimated at 23.5 million per year. Conclusion: Chronic abdominal pain is a common problem that entails significant healthcare costs in the Netherlands of which functional diagnoses compromise a significant amount.