Preschool hyperactivity is associated with long-term economic burden: Evidence from a longitudinal health economic analysis of costs incurred across childhood, adolescence and young adulthood
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BACKGROUND: Preschool hyperactivity is an early risk factor for adult mental health problems and criminality. Little is known about; (a) the patterns of long-term service costs associated with this behavioural marker in the general population and (b) the specific factors predicting hyperactivity-related costs. We undertook a prospective study investigating associations between preschool hyperactivity and average individual annual service costs up to late adolescent and young adulthood. METHODS: One-hundred and seventy individuals rated as hyperactive by their parents and 88 nonhyperactive controls were identified from a community sample of 4,215 three years olds. Baseline information about behaviour/emotional problems and background characteristics were collected. At follow-up (when individuals were aged between 14 and 25 years) information was obtained on service use, and associated costs since the age of three. Based on this information we calculated the average cost per annum incurred by each individual. RESULTS: Compared to controls, preschoolers with hyperactivity had 17.6 times higher average costs per annum across domains (apart from nonmental health costs). These were 562 for each hyperactive individual compared with 30 for controls. Average annual costs decreased as a function of age, with higher costs incurred at younger ages. The effects of hyperactivity remained significant when other baseline factors were added to the model. Effects were fully mediated by later psychiatric morbidity. When the hyperactive group were examined separately, costs were consistently predicted by male gender and, for some cost codes, by conduct problems. CONCLUSIONS: Preventative approaches targeting early hyperactivity may be of value. Services should be targeted towards high-risk individuals with careful consideration given to the cost-to-benefit trade-off of early intervention strategies.Copyright © 2015 The Authors. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Association for Child and Adolescent Mental Health.