Objectives: Several studies have sought to analyze the cost-effectiveness of advanced home care and home rehabilitation. However, the costs of informal care are rarely included in economic appraisals of home care. This study estimates the cost of informal care for patients treated in advanced home care and analyses some patient characteristics that influence informal care costs.
Methods: During one week in October 1995, data were collected on all 451 patients in advanced home care in the Swedish county of Östergötland. Costs were calculated by using two models: one including leisure time, and one excluding leisure time. Multiple regression analysis was used to analyze factors associated with costs of informal care.
Results: Seventy percent of the patients in the study had informal care around the clock during the week investigated. The patients had, on average, five formal care visits per week, each of which lasted for almost half an hour. Thus, the cost of informal care constituted a considerable part of the cost of advanced home care. When the cost of leisure time was included, the cost of informal care was estimated at SEK 5,880 per week per patient, or twice as high as total formal caregiver costs. When leisure time was excluded, the cost of informal care was estimated at SEK 3,410 per week per patient, which is still 1.2 times higher than formal caregiver costs (estimated at SEK 2,810 per week per patient). Informal care costs were higher among patients who were men, who were younger, who had their own housing, and who were diagnosed with cancer.
Conclusions: Studies of advanced home care that exclude the cost of informal care substantially underestimate the costs to society, regardless of whether or not the leisure time of the caregiver is included in the calculations.