£££££... The Cost of IBS


In 2005 Novartis sponsored IBS Woman, a pan-European education programme, in the course of which they pulled together many of the financial costs that have been quoted in relationship to IBS. IBS sufferers will be already be all too aware of the emotional, social and professional costs of the condition.

Financial Costs

Direct costs to healthcare systems suggested that IBS costs, per patient, nearly as much as diabetes or Alzheimer’s. In 2004, the mean annual cost in the UK was estimated at around £90 per patient, although in 2002 a study at the University of Sheffield showed that patients with IBS cost the NHS over £125 a year. In the USA the direct cost per person was estimated at over $600.

European studies suggest that annual indirect costs of IBS per person range from €750 in Portugal to £1,700 in the UK.

Disruption to work

In terms of disruption to their work, one study found that IBS
sufferers were absent from work for 5.5-6.5 days per year more than those who did not have IBS. (IBS ranks close to the common cold as a cause of absenteesism.) In the UK it is estimated that 8 million people have IBS, each of whom misses 17 days at work each year because of their condition – at an annual cost to the country of £500 million.

Moreover, IBS could make employees less effective at their jobs and decrease their likelihood of earning promotion. In one survey 32% of IBS sufferers reported turning down promotion opportunities that involved attending long meetings. A USA study estimated that employees with IBS cost their employers 1.5 times more than employees without IBS.

Yet, it is suggested that only 25% of those with IBS symptoms actually consult a doctor. What would all these guesstimates look like if the other 75% were counted in?

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First Published in June 2006

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