Primarily, to determine the direct medical costs and productivity losses associated with complicated chickenpox (hospitalized cases) and, secondarily, to quantify the overall economic burden of chickenpox in Canada.


Direct medical resource consumption patterns were determined by chart review of 160 otherwise healthy children and 40 children with leukemia hospitalized for chickenpox. Children were selected from the database of the Immunization Monitoring Program Active (IMPACT), a network of 11 tertiary-care hospitals in Canada that collected information at the time of hospitalization from January 1991 to March 1996. An additional 26 healthy children hospitalized were recruited prospectively by IMPACT. Productivity losses (time lost from work and daily activities) were assessed by caregiver interviews. Treatment costs were determined from the patient, Ministry of Health, and societal perspectives.


The average societal per case cost for complicated chickenpox in healthy children was $7060 and $8398, respectively, from the retrospective and prospective assessments. For children with leukemia, the direct medical cost was estimated at $7228. These costs were combined with a cost established previously for uncomplicated chickenpox. The estimated yearly overall economic impact of chickenpox in Canada was $122.4 million, with $24.0 million attributable to Ministry of Health costs, assuming an estimated yearly incidence of 346 527 cases and a 0.54% rate of hospitalization for healthy children.


Direct medical costs are the major cost driver in the care of complicated chickenpox. However, in the context of the overall economic burden of the disease, uncomplicated chickenpox is the major cost driver, contributing 89% to the total cost.

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