Objective

To evaluate the indirect costs of diabetes and show their relationship to the chronic complications of diabetes.

Research Design and Methods

The cost of temporary and permanent disability for diabetic patients was studied in a group of La Plata University employees and in a second group at the government institutions of the Buenos Aires Province during 3 consecutive yr (1984–1986).

Results

Absences due to temporary disability were similar for the diabetic group without chronic complications and an age-and sex-matched nondiabetic control group. Conversely, diabetic patients with chronic complications had major increases in absences compared with the control subjects. Diabetes mellitus was the third leading cause of permanent disability mainly due to macrovascular and retinal lesions. This disability resulted in an average of 11 yr of work production loss per patient.

Conclusions

These results suggest that diabetic individuals without complications incur few additional costs compared with nondiabetic individuals. However, once complications appear, the indirect costs are very high, suggesting that secondary preventions of the diabetic complications might be an optimal approach for reducing the health-care burden of diabetes.

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