How good are US studies of HIV costs of care?

Linda Rabeneck, Terri Menke, Nelda Wray

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND. Valid, timely estimates of the costs of HIV care are needed by health planners and policy makers. OBJECTIVE. To perform a methodologic critique of published estimates of resource utilization and costs of HIV care. DATA SOURCES. MEDLINE database for 1990-1998. DATA SELECTION. Included articles focused on adults with a spectrum of HIV disease in which the authors developed their own resource use and cost data. Thirty one articles met these criteria. DATA EXTRACTION. Studies were compared based on: (1) utilization and cost estimates, in 1995 dollars; (2) study period; (3) research design; (4) sampling frame; (5) sample size and patient characteristics; (6) data sources and scope of services; and (7) methods used in the analysis. DATA SYNTHESIS. The most recent estimates pertain to the first half of 1995, before the use of protease inhibitor therapy. We found wide variations in the estimates and identified three major sources for this: (1) patient samples that were restricted to subgroups of the national HIV-infected population; (2) utilization data that were limited in scope (eg, inpatient care only); and (3) invalid methods for estimating annual or lifetime costs, particularly in dealing with decedents. CONCLUSIONS. To accurately estimate resource use and costs for HIV care nationwide, a nationally representative probability sample of HIV-infected patients is required. Even in research that is not intended to provide national estimates, the scope of utilization data should be broadened and greater attention to methodologic issues in the analysis of annual and lifetime costs is needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)748-759
Number of pages12
JournalMedical Care
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 1999


  • AIDS
  • Cost of illness
  • Costs and cost analysis
  • Health care costs
  • HIV infection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing(all)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health(social science)
  • Health Professions(all)


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