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Health service utilization and direct healthcare costs associated with obesity in older adult population in Ghana


Lartey, ST and de Graaff, B and Magnussen, CG and Boateng, GO and Aikins, M and Minicuci, N and Kowal, P and Si, L and Palmer, AJ, Health service utilization and direct healthcare costs associated with obesity in older adult population in Ghana, Health Policy and Planning pp. 1-11. ISSN 0268-1080 (2019) [Refereed Article]

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Copyright Statement

Copyright 2019 The Authors. This is a pre-copyedited, author-produced version of an article accepted for publication in Health Policy and Planning following peer review. The version of record is available online at:

DOI: doi:10.1093/heapol/czz147


Obesity is a major risk factor for many chronic diseases and disabilities, with severe implications on morbidity and mortality among older adults. With an increasing prevalence of obesity among older adults in Ghana, it has become necessary to develop cost-effective strategies for its management and prevention. However, developing such strategies is challenging as body mass index (BMI)-specific utilization and costs required for cost-effectiveness analysis are not available in this population. Therefore, this study examines the associations between health services utilization as well as direct healthcare costs and overweight (BMI ≥25.00 and <30.00 kg/m2) and obesity (BMI ≥30.00 kg/m2) among older adults in Ghana. Data were used from a nationally representative, multistage sample of 3350 people aged 50+ years from the World Health Organization's Study on global AGEing and adult health (WHO-SAGE; 2014/15). Health service utilization was measured by the number of health facility visits over a 12-month period. Direct costs (2017 US dollars) included out-of-pocket payments and the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) claims. Associations between utilization and BMI were examined using multivariable zero-inflated negative binomial regressions; and between costs and BMI using multivariable two-part regressions. Twenty-three percent were overweight and 13% were obese. Compared with normal-weight participants, overweight and obesity were associated with 75% and 159% more inpatient admissions, respectively. Obesity was also associated with 53% additional outpatient visits. One in five of the overweight and obese population had at least one chronic disease, and having chronic disease was associated with increased outpatient utilization. The average per person total costs for overweight was $78 and obesity was $132 compared with $35 for normal weight. The NHIS bore approximately 60% of the average total costs per person expended in 2014/15. Overweight and obese groups had significantly higher total direct healthcare costs burden of $121 million compared with $64 million for normal weight in the entire older adult Ghanaian population. Compared with normal weight, the total costs per person associated with overweight increased by 73% and more than doubled for obesity. Even though the total prevalence of overweight and obesity was about half of that of normal weight, the sum of their cost burden was almost doubled. Implementing weight reduction measures could reduce health service utilization and costs in this population.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:Ghana, obesity, WHO-SAGE Wave 2, direct healthcare costs, health service utilization, older adults
Research Division:Health Sciences
Research Group:Health services and systems
Research Field:Aged health care
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Evaluation of health and support services
Objective Field:Health policy evaluation
UTAS Author:Lartey, ST (Mrs Stella Lartey)
UTAS Author:de Graaff, B (Dr Barbara de Graaff)
UTAS Author:Magnussen, CG (Associate Professor Costan Magnussen)
UTAS Author:Palmer, AJ (Professor Andrew Palmer)
ID Code:136701
Year Published:2019
Web of Science® Times Cited:6
Deposited By:Menzies Institute for Medical Research
Deposited On:2020-01-14
Last Modified:2020-03-25
Downloads:10 View Download Statistics

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