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Open Access Research

An investigation of economic costs of schizophrenia in two areas of China

Jinguo Zhai1, Xiaofeng Guo2, Min Chen1, Jingping Zhao2* and Zhonghua Su3

Author Affiliations

1 School of Mental Health, Jining Medical University, No. 16, Lotus Road, Jining 272067, Shandong Province, PR China

2 Institute of Mental Health of the Second Xiangya Hospital, Central South University, No.139 Renmin Middle Road, Changsha 410011, Hunan, PR China

3 Department of Psychiatry, the Second Affiliated Hospital, Jining Medical University, Jining 272051, Shandong, PR China

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International Journal of Mental Health Systems 2013, 7:26  doi:10.1186/1752-4458-7-26

Published: 15 November 2013



Schizophrenia is a severe psychotic disorder characterized by significant disturbances in thinking, perception, emotions and behavior. Even if it is not a very frequent disorder, but it is the most burdensome and costly illnesses worldwide. The total population was approximate 1.3 billion and there are approximate 8 million schizophrenic patients in China. Despite the wide-ranging financial and social burdens associated with schizophrenia, but there have been few cost-of-illness studies of this illness in China.


To evaluate the economic cost of schizophrenic patients in China.


356 schizophrenic patients who met with DSM-IV criteria were enrolled and investigated with the Economic Burden Questionnaire(EBQ), 299 schizophrenic patients completed the study for 12 months. All the data were combined and classified by researcher. EBQ include all kinds of cost such as direct cost, indirect cost and total cost as well. It was filled in by patients and their close caregivers. Comparison of cost was made between not only out-patients and in-patients but also urban patients and rural patients. Multiple stepwise regression analysis was made to identify the main influence factors of total cost.


(i) The per case per annum total costs, direct costs and indirect costs of schizophrenia amounted to US$2586.21, US$862.81(33.4%) and US$1723.40(66.6%) respectively. The per case total cost, direct cost and direct medical cost of in-patients were more higher than out-patients (P < 0.05). (ii) There was significant difference in per case per annum total cost, direct cost, direct medical cost, cost due to lost working-days and disability between urban and rural schizophrenic patients (P < 0.05), the former is higher than the latter. (iii) The results of multivariate stepwise regression analysis show that five variables were significantly correlated with higher cost: professional status(cadre), diagnostic subtype(residual schizophrenia), urban or rural patients(urban patients), in-patients or out-patients(in-patients) and researcher centre(southern center). The standardized regression coefficient were 0.308, 0.218, 0.212, 0.156 and 0.149 respectively, the correlation of determination R square was 0.2741, F = 15.651, P < 0.0000. These characteristics explain 27.41% of the variability in the total cost.


(i) Economic cost of schizophrenia were serious, we must pay close attention to it. (ii) The indirect cost are the majority of the total cost. The cost of urban patients are more higher than the cost of rural patients, the cost of in-patients are more higher than the cost of out-patients.

Schizophrenia; Economic burden; Economic cost