This study was undertaken in a society without psychiatric services to assess the economic losses associated there with major mental disorder. Such data are important in assessing the cost/benefit of services for major mental disorders.
A survey was conducted in 27 representative villages of Laos, each containing about 200–300 people; 35 mentally ill subjects were identified. Data were obtained on expenditure for treatment, loss of productivity, and other economic losses (eg., destruction of property); demographic data and clinical rating scales were also obtained, and compared with economic variables.
The data show wide variability in expenditures for treatment, but losses of productivity were consistently high; acute losses, while impressive due to their suddeness and obvious wastefulness, were comparatively small relative to others. Demographic data were not associated with loss in productivity. Certain psychopathological parameters, ie., more psychopathology, less productivity, were inversely correlated with productivity. Psychosocial function scales were strongly and directly correlated with productivity.