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The Economic Burden of Fecal Incontinence

The Economic Burden of Fecal Incontinence

As the elderly population in the United States continues to grow rapidly, it’s expected that the prevalence of fecal incontinence will also increase substantially. The condition is highly prevalent in both older men and women. Fecal incontinence can significantly decrease quality of life because patients often find it difficult to hide odor issues. In many cases, they develop depression and become socially isolated. Many sufferers live with the condition for 5 years or longer before seeking treatment. Despite its prevalence and harmful impact on patients and their caregivers, fecal incontinence remains understudied in clinical research. Furthermore, few studies have looked at its economic burden in the U.S. Quantifying Costs of Fecal Incontinence In Diseases of the Colon & Rectum, my colleagues and I had a study published that aimed to quantify per-patient annual costs associated with fecal incontinence. Patients with the condition were mailed a survey in 2010 to collect information on their sociodemographic characteristics, symptoms, and use of medical and non-medical resources for fecal incontinence. The analysis included 332 adult patients who had fecal incontinence for more than a year with at least monthly leakage of solid, liquid, or mucous stool. Three categories of cost were examined in the study: 1) direct medical costs, including dollars spent for diagnosis, treatment, and management of the condition; 2) direct non-medical costs, including dollars spent for non-medical resources, such as protective products or transportation to care; and 3) indirect costs, such as accountable dollars from loss of productivity. Unit costs were determined based on standard Medicare reimbursement rates, national average wholesale prices of medications, and estimates from other relevant sources. According...
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