The aim of this study was to estimate the cost of "brain" disorders in Italy. Country-specific prevalence and health-economic data on addiction, affective, anxiety and psychotic disorders, tumours, dementia, epilepsy, migraine/other headaches, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, stroke and head trauma were reviewed. Direct medical/non-medical and indirect costs were computed. Population-based samples and national or regional registries were used. The Italian population expected with a brain disorder was 12.4 million in 2004. The highest cost per case was for tumours and multiple sclerosis; the lowest was for anxiety disorders and migraine. Dementia (8.6 billion euros), psychotic and affective disorders (18.7 billion euros), migraine (3.5 billion euros) and stroke (3.4 billion euros) represented the highest total costs. Direct medical costs were predominant for psychiatric and neurosurgical disorders, direct non-medical costs for dementia, and indirect costs for neurological disorders. The total cost of brain disorders in Italy was 40.8 billion euros, 3% of the gross national product, and 706 euros per Italian citizen/year. This figure is however likely to be underestimated as it is based on retrospective methodology and samples of brain disorders, and does not include intangible costs.
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