The financial value of OCD within the UK: who pays?


As an Elf Economist, analysis on obsessive-compulsive dysfunction (OCD) doesn’t typically catch my consideration. Because the authors of a current paper in Complete Psychiatry level out, there’s comparatively little financial proof about OCD. Certainly, a fast search of PubMed reveals simply 5 papers revealed in 2023 that have been tagged with MeSH phrases for OCD and Economics, even if estimates for the prevalence of OCD may be as excessive as 3%.

OCD is characterised by recurring, undesirable ideas (obsessions) and repetitive behaviours (compulsions) that an individual feels pushed to carry out. These behaviours and ideas can considerably intervene with every day actions and trigger misery.

Within the UK, OCD remedy follows a ‘stepped-care’ mannequin, beginning with cognitive behavioural remedy (CBT) or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs; to be taught extra, learn Alan Underwood’s 2016 Psychological Elf weblog). However inpatient care may additionally be wanted, at a a lot increased value to the well being service.

Understanding extra in regards to the cost-of-illness for OCD may assist to information the allocation of sources to analysis and care. As such, Kochar and colleagues (2023) performed a cost-of-illness (CoI) research, looking for to estimate the financial burden of OCD within the UK over one 12 months.

OCD ranks in the top 10 for global neuropsychiatric disability burden, yet little is known about the economic cost of OCD to individuals or society.

OCD ranks within the high 10 for world neuropsychiatric incapacity burden, but little is thought in regards to the financial value of OCD to people or society.


To estimate the overall value of sickness for the UK, the researchers modelled youngsters, adults, and aged folks with OCD individually, making use of totally different charges of prevalence and severity and recognising the totally different remedy pathways for these teams. Prevalence and severity estimates have been derived from publicly accessible nationwide surveys and revealed research on the distribution of severity in every group. The analysis is described as utilizing a ‘bottom-up’ method, which means that particular person value parts are added collectively, quite than teased other than an estimate of complete expenditure.

Prices have been estimated individually for the totally different subpopulations. Along with the unit prices of NHS therapies, out-of-pocket bills and personal remedy prices have been thought-about, as was the worth of misplaced productiveness on account of being much less in a position to work. Some inputs have been primarily based on knowledgeable opinion and the researchers sensibly relegated these to situation evaluation.


The annual cost-of-illness for OCD within the UK was estimated at £378 million from the care supplier’s perspective. That’s £525 per particular person with OCD.

When together with societal prices like misplaced productiveness, out-of-pocket bills, and personal remedy, the CoI rose dramatically to over £5 billion, averaging £7,077 per particular person with OCD. This societal expense constituted 92% of the overall CoI, underscoring the numerous financial affect past well being care prices. Misplaced productiveness alone – which was solely measured for adults – was valued at £4,797 per particular person, or £3.5 billion for the inhabitants. On common, sufferers have been estimated to spend round £1,400 per 12 months on non-public remedy.

Price evaluation by age confirmed that adults bore the best well being care value total, as a result of increased prevalence of OCD, although the common value of care was highest for kids (£651) as a result of extra common provision of costly therapies like CBT. The severity of OCD additionally influenced the prices of care, with extreme circumstances producing extra prices on common: £902 for folks with extreme OCD and £174 for folks with delicate OCD signs.

Remedy-wise, SSRIs are cheap at round £48 per affected person, in contrast with care prices of £1,417 for every particular person receiving CBT. On the different finish of the dimensions, sufferers who obtain inpatient care incur £8,658 per 12 months on common.

The situation analyses and sensitivity analyses revealed that accounting for comorbid despair would greater than double the estimated value to the well being service, and an identical magnitude of impact was discovered when presenteeism and caregiver productiveness losses have been accounted for.

The annual cost-of-illness for OCD in the UK (including personal expenses) was estimated to be over £5 billion, which totals to approximately £7,077 per individual diagnosed with OCD. On average, patients spend about £1,400 per year on private therapy.

The annual cost-of-illness for OCD within the UK (together with private bills) was estimated to be over £5 billion, which totals to roughly £7,077 per particular person recognized with OCD. On common, sufferers spend about £1,400 per 12 months on non-public remedy.


  • Regardless of comparatively little analysis into its financial affect, well being and care providers are estimated to spend round £378 million on take care of folks with OCD within the UK.
  • When broader societal prices are thought-about, the price of the sickness shoots to over £5 billion, or £7,077 per particular person with OCD.
  • The analysis means that sufferers and wider society bear a higher value than the NHS.
OCD can reduce productivity through absenteeism, presenteeism (working less effectively), and through caregivers reducing their hours; this cost was estimated as greater than the cost to health care services like the NHS.

OCD can scale back productiveness by means of absenteeism, presenteeism (working much less successfully), and thru caregivers lowering their hours; this value was estimated as higher than the fee to well being care providers just like the NHS.

Strengths and limitations

The authors take a comparatively conservative method, which I take into account to be a energy. They focus their base case evaluation on inputs about which they will have some confidence, particularly the prevalence and well being care prices estimates. Which means we will take into account their headline estimate of £378 million to characterize a comparatively strong decrease sure for the prices related to OCD within the UK.

One other energy of the research is that it breaks down estimates in response to age and severity, which not solely makes the findings extra informative but additionally makes it simpler for readers to sense-check the outcomes.

One main limitation of the research is its reliance on knowledgeable opinion for analyses past the bottom case, and the authors don’t do job of describing how they went about eliciting these knowledgeable opinions. We have no idea whether or not they used a recognised and validated framework, and the outcomes derived from these inputs (e.g., regarding comorbid despair and personal remedy) shouldn’t be thought-about strong.

Whilst the authors take a relatively conservative approach with estimating the economic cosst (increasing robustness), they are vague about their reliance on expert opinions within the analyses (decreasing robustness). Clear reporting of methods is vital in determining reliability and validity.  

While the authors take a comparatively conservative method with estimating the financial cosst (growing robustness), they’re imprecise about their reliance on knowledgeable opinions throughout the analyses (lowering robustness). Clear reporting of strategies is significant in figuring out reliability and validity.

Implications for observe

Price-of-illness research have a tendency to supply huge numbers which might be tough to interpret in isolation. Through the years, we’ve written about comparable research for bipolar dysfunction, perinatal psychological well being issues, multimorbidity, and doubtless others. So what ought to we learn into these numbers?

Properly, the authors make some comparisons with different psychological well being circumstances, noting that the fee is decrease than cited prices for despair, however increased than these for anorexia. Personally, I’d be very cautious of such comparisons, as an important determinant of variations might be methodological decisions, such because the time horizon, the inclusion and exclusion of various value classes, and approaches to stratifying the inhabitants.

The place research like this are most helpful is within the within-study comparisons that they facilitate. As an illustration, the scale of the fee burden related to non-public remedy and out-of-pocket expenditure, at greater than £1,700 per particular person per 12 months, is startlingly excessive, particularly compared to the fee to the NHS of £525 per particular person. The proof right here is weak, being primarily based on knowledgeable opinion, so it shouldn’t be accepted at face worth, however it does spotlight an essential space for future analysis. Additional research may examine the frequency with which totally different teams of individuals with OCD are accessing non-public remedy, how a lot that is costing them, and the affect that it’s having on their lives.

General, this research makes case for the importance of the financial burden of OCD within the UK, and the findings ought to inform future methods for investments in related analysis and take care of folks with OCD.

This study signals the need for more research to understand the economic burden of OCD, particularly on the individual and caregivers.

This research indicators the necessity for extra analysis to know the financial burden of OCD, notably on the person and caregivers.

Assertion of pursuits



Main paper

Kochar, N., Ip, S., Vardanega, V., Sireau, N. T., & Fineberg, N. A. (2023). A price-of-illness evaluation of the financial burden of obsessive-compulsive dysfunction in the UKComplete Psychiatry127, 152422.

Different references

Sampson, C. (2015). Do perinatal psychological well being issues value the UK £8 billion per 12 months? The Psychological Elf.

Sampson, C. (2015). Looking for the price of bipolar dysfunction. The Psychological Elf.

Saunders, Okay., & Vereeken, S. (2023). The healthcare value of multimorbidity in folks with psychological well being diagnoses in Denmark. The Psychological Elf.

Underwood, A. (2016). Antidepressants and psychotherapy for OCD in adults: community meta-analysis. The Psychological Elf.

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