Introduction: Schizophrenia is a disorder that produces considerable burdens due to its often relapsing/remitting or chronic longitudinal course. This burden is felt not only by patients themselves, but also by their families and health care systems. Although the societal burden caused by this disorder has been evaluated in several countries, the magnitude of the societal cost of schizophrenia in Japan has never been estimated. The aim of this study is to clarify the societal burden of schizophrenia by estimating the cost of schizophrenia in Japan in 2008. Methods: A human capital approach was adopted to estimate the cost of schizophrenia. The total cost of schizophrenia was calculated as the sum of the direct, morbidity, and mortality costs. Schizophrenia was defined as disorders coded as F20.0-F20.9 according to the International Classification of Diseases-10. The data required to estimate the total cost was collected from publicly available statistics or previously reported studies. Results: The total cost of schizophrenia in Japan in 2008 was JPY 2.77 trillion (USD 23.8 billion). While the direct cost was JPY 0.770 trillion (USD 6.59 billion), the morbidity and mortality costs were JPY 1.85 trillion (USD 15.8 billion) and JPY 0.155 trillion (USD 1.33 billion), respectively. Conclusion: The societal burden caused by schizophrenia is tremendous in Japan, similar to that in other developed countries where published data exist. Compared with other disorders, such as depression or anxiety disorders, the direct cost accounted for a relatively high proportion of the total cost. Furthermore, absolute costs arising from unemployment were larger, while the prevalence rate was smaller, than the corresponding results for depression or anxiety in Japan.
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