Healthcare costs associated with language difficulties up to 9 years of age : Australian population-based study

Journal article


Sciberras, Emma, Westrupp, Elizabeth M., Wake, Melissa, Nicholson, Jan M., Lucas, Nina, Mensah, Fiona, Gold, Lisa and Reilly, Sheena. (2015). Healthcare costs associated with language difficulties up to 9 years of age : Australian population-based study. International Journal of Speech-Language Pathology. 17(1), pp. 41-52. https://doi.org/10.3109/17549507.2014.898095
AuthorsSciberras, Emma, Westrupp, Elizabeth M., Wake, Melissa, Nicholson, Jan M., Lucas, Nina, Mensah, Fiona, Gold, Lisa and Reilly, Sheena
Abstract

Purpose. This study aimed to quantify the non-hospital healthcare costs associated with language difficulties within two nationally representative samples of children.

Method. Data were from three biennial waves (2004–2008) of the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (B cohort: 0–5 years; K cohort: 4–9 years). Language difficulties were defined as scores ≤ 1.25 SD below the mean on measures of parent-reported communication (0–3 years) and directly assessed vocabulary (4–9 years). Participant data were linked to administrative data on non-hospital healthcare attendances and prescription medications from the universal Australian Medicare subsidized healthcare scheme.

Result. It was found that healthcare costs over each 2-year age band were higher for children with than without language difficulties at 0–1, 2–3, and 4–5 years, notably 36% higher (mean difference = $AU206, 95% CI = $90, $321) at 4–5 years (B cohort). The slightly higher 2-year healthcare costs for children with language difficulties at 6–7 and 8–9 years were not statistically different from those without language difficulties. Modelled to the corresponding Australian child population, 2-year government costs ranged from $AU1.2–$AU12.1 million (depending on age examined). Six-year healthcare costs increased with the persistence of language difficulties in the K cohort, with total Medicare costs increasing by $192 (95% CI = $74, $311; p = .002) for each additional wave of language difficulties.

Conclusion. Language difficulties (whether transient or persistent) were associated with substantial excess population healthcare costs in childhood, which are in addition to the known broader costs incurred through the education system. It is unclear whether healthcare costs were specifically due to the assessment and/or treatment of language difficulties, as opposed to conditions that may be co-morbid with or may cause language difficulties.

Keywordslanguage; healthcare; costs; economic; children; longitudinal
Year2015
JournalInternational Journal of Speech-Language Pathology
Journal citation17 (1), pp. 41-52
PublisherInforma Healthcare
ISSN1754-9515
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.3109/17549507.2014.898095
Scopus EID2-s2.0-84921341905
Research or scholarlyResearch
Page range41-52
FunderNational Health and Medical Research Council
Publisher's version
License
All rights reserved
File Access Level
Controlled
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Online06 May 2014
Publication process dates
Deposited09 Sep 2021
Grant IDNHMRC/1023493
NHMRC/436914
NHMRC/425855
NHMRC/1037159
NHMRC/546405
NHMRC/390136
NHMRC/1046518
NHMRC/1041892
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