The global economic impact of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) on household expenditures and poverty indicators remains less well understood. To conduct a systematic review and meta-analysis of the literature evaluating the global economic impact of six NCDs [including coronary heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes mellitus (DM), cancer (lung, colon, cervical and breast), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and chronic kidney disease (CKD)] on households and impoverishment. Medline, Embase and Google Scholar databases were searched from inception to November 6th 2014. To identify additional publications, reference lists of retrieved studies were searched. Randomized controlled trials, systematic reviews, cohorts, case–control, cross-sectional, modeling and ecological studies carried out in adults and assessing the economic consequences of NCDs on households and impoverishment. No language restrictions. All abstract and full text selection was done by two independent reviewers. Data were extracted by two independent reviewers and checked by a third independent reviewer. Studies were included evaluating the impact of at least one of the selected NCDs and on at least one of the following measures: expenditure on medication, transport, co-morbidities, out-of-pocket (OOP) payments or other indirect costs; impoverishment, poverty line and catastrophic spending; household or individual financial cost. From 3,241 references, 64 studies met the inclusion criteria, 75 % of which originated from the Americas and Western Pacific WHO region. Breast cancer and DM were the most studied NCDs (42 in total); CKD and COPD were the least represented (five and three studies respectively). OOP payments and financial catastrophe, mostly defined as OOP exceeding a certain proportion of household income, were the most studied outcomes. OOP expenditure as a proportion of family income, ranged between 2 and 158 % across the different NCDs and countries. Financial catastrophe due to the selected NCDs was seen in all countries and at all income levels, and occurred in 6–84 % of the households depending on the chosen catastrophe threshold. In 16 low- and middle-income countries (LMIC), 6–11 % of the total population would be impoverished at a 1.25 US dollar/day poverty line if they would have to purchase lowest price generic diabetes medication. NCDs impose a large and growing global impact on households and impoverishment, in all continents and levels of income. The true extent, however, remains difficult to determine due to the heterogeneity across existing studies in terms of populations studied, outcomes reported and measures employed. The impact that NCDs exert on households and impoverishment is likely to be underestimated since important economic domains, such as coping strategies and the inclusion of marginalized and vulnerable people who do not seek health care due to financial reasons, are overlooked in literature. Given the scarcity of information on specific regions, further research to estimate impact of NCDs on households and impoverishment in LMIC, especially the Middle Eastern, African and Latin American regions is required.

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European Journal of Epidemiology
Department of Internal Medicine

Jaspers, L., Colpani, V., Chaker, L., van der Lee, S., Muka, T., Imo, D., … Franco, O. (2014). The global impact of non-communicable diseases on households and impoverishment: a systematic review. European Journal of Epidemiology (Vol. 30, pp. 163–188). doi:10.1007/s10654-014-9983-3