sherilee harper

EcoHealth Research with Indigenous Communities

New Publication Exploring the Hidden Costs of Enteric Illness in the North

Congratulations to Nia King for her recent publication in PloS One.  In the north, per capita healthcare costs are high. However, given Inuit communities’ unique cultural, economic, and geographic contexts, there is a knowledge gap regarding the context-specific indirect healthcare costs borne by Inuit. Therefore, Nia worked with Northern partners to identify the major indirect costs of enteric illness, and explore factors associated with these indirect costs, in Rigolet, Canada.

Citation:

King, N., Vriezen, R., Edge, V.L., Ford, J., Wood, M., IHACC Research Team, Harper, S.L. (2018). The hidden costs: Identification of indirect costs associated with acute gastrointestinal illness in an Inuit community. PloS One, 13(5), e0196990.  Click here for free article (open access).

Abstract:

Background: Acute gastrointestinal illness (AGI) incidence and per-capita healthcare expenditures are higher in some Inuit communities as compared to elsewhere in Canada. Consequently, there is a demand for strategies that will reduce the individual-level costs of AGI; this will require a comprehensive understanding of the economic costs of AGI. However, given Inuit communities’ unique cultural, economic, and geographic contexts, there is a knowledge gap regarding the context-specific indirect costs of AGI borne by Inuit community members. This study aimed to identify the major indirect costs of AGI, and explore factors associated with these indirect costs, in the Inuit community of Rigolet, Canada, in order to develop a case-based context-specific study framework that can be used to evaluate these costs.

Methods: A mixed methods study design and community-based methods were used. Qualitative in-depth, group, and case interviews were analyzed using thematic analysis to identify and describe indirect costs of AGI specific to Rigolet. Data from two quantitative cross-sectional retrospective surveys were analyzed using univariable regression models to examine potential associations between predictor variables and the indirect costs.

Results/Significance: The most notable indirect costs of AGI that should be incorporated into cost-of-illness evaluations were the tangible costs related to missing paid employment and subsistence activities, as well as the intangible costs associated with missing community and cultural events. Seasonal cost variations should also be considered. This study was intended to inform cost-of-illness studies conducted in Rigolet and other similar research settings. These results contribute to a better understanding of the economic impacts of AGI on Rigolet residents, which could be used to help identify priority areas and resource allocation for public health policies and programs.

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