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Dates: 2009
Funding: Alzheimer's Research Trust
Information: Ramόn Luengo-Fernandez

Aims and scope of the study

The aims of this study are firstly to quantify the economic burden of dementia to the 15 pre-accession European Union countries for the year 2008. In order to allow comparisons across countries the same methodology is applied for the whole study.  The costs obtained in this study are compared to our estimates on the cost of cardiovascular disease, coronary heart disease and cerebrovascular disease across these countries. See CVD costs in Europe, and Economic burden of cerebrovascular disease in the UK.

The second aim of our study is to compare the economic burden of dementia in each country with the level of research funding on the disease, to aid decision makers to prioritise scarce research funds.

For the purposes of the study dementia is defined as all diseases in International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems 10th Revision (ICD-10) codes F00-F03.

The 15 countries included in the study are those who were members of the European Union as of December 2003, namely: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, UK.

Economic burden

We include as part of the overall economic burden of dementia the direct health and social care costs, informal care costs, and productivity losses due to premature death and absence from work.

We employ a “top down” approach to attribute the total expenditure due to dementia using aggregate data on prevalence, morbidity, mortality, hospital admissions, long-term care resource use, disease related costs, and other health related indicators. We have employed a similar approach when estimating the economic burden of cardiovascular diseases in the EU and the UK.  We make use of national and international data. When such data are not available we search the published literature, and when no country-specific data is identified, extrapolations from data in similar countries are performed.

Costs are estimated and reported in Euros for each country. However, as currency exchange rates do not necessarily reflect real price differences between countries, we also employ the purchasing power parity (PPP) method. The PPP method measures the price of the same bundle of goods in different countries using Euros as a common currency, thus allowing the comparison of costs, adjusted for cost of living, between countries. We use the most recent year for which information is available, and report all costs in 2008 prices.

Research funding

Another aim of our study is to compare the economic burden of dementia in each country with the level of research funding on the disease, which will aid decision makers to prioritise scarce research funds to areas with the highest burden (Gross et al. 1999).

The levels of research funding on dementia by country are obtained from the ‘Resource Allocation to Brain Research in Europe’ report, which estimated, via surveys of government, charities and pharmaceutical industry, the levels of research funding across different conditions of the brain, including dementia, for the whole of Europe (Sobocki et al. 2006). In addition, we use data from a recently EU commissioned study, which also evaluated the level of research spending on dementia.

UK Study

A more detailed analysis and report has been prepared for the UK. Dementia 2010