Open Access Open Badges Research article

Economic burden to primary informal caregivers of hospitalized older adults in Mexico: a cohort study

Mariana López-Ortega1, Carmen García-Peña2, Víctor Granados-García2, José Juan García-González3 and Mario Ulises Pérez-Zepeda1*

Author affiliations

1 Instituto Nacional de Geriatría, Periférico Sur 2767, Colonia San Jerónimo Lídice, Delegación Magdalena Contreras, México D.F, Mexico

2 Unidad de Investigación Epidemiológica y en Servicios de Salud, Area de Envejecimiento, Centro Médico Nacional Siglo XXI; Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social, México, D.F, Mexico

3 Hospital General Regional No. 1, Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social, Querétaro, Querétaro, Mexico

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Citation and License

BMC Health Services Research 2013, 13:51  doi:10.1186/1472-6963-13-51

Published: 8 February 2013



The burden of out of pocket spending for the Mexican population is high compared to other countries. Even patients insured by social security institutions have to face the cost of health goods, services or nonmedical expenses related to their illness. Primary caregivers, in addition, experience losses in productivity by taking up responsibilities in care giving activities. This situation represents a mayor economic burden in an acute care setting for elderly population. There is evidence that specialized geriatric services could represent lower overall costs in these circumstances and could help reduce these burdens.

The aim of this study was to investigate economic burden differences in caregivers of elderly patients comparing two acute care services (Geriatric and Internal Medicine). Specifically, economic costs associated with hospitalization of older adults in these two settings by evaluating health care related out of pocket expenditures (OOPE), non-medical OOPE and indirect costs.


A comparative analysis of direct and indirect costs in hospitalised elderly patients (60-year or older) and their primary informal caregivers in two health care settings, using a prospective cohort was performed. Economic burden was measured by out of pocket expenses and indirect costs (productivity lost) due to care giving activities. The analysis included a two-part model, the first one allowing the estimation of the probability of observing any health care related and non-medical OOPE; and the second one, the positive observations or expenditures.


A total of 210 subjects were followed during their hospital stay. Of the total number of subjects 95% reported at least one non-medical OOPE, being daily transportation the most common expense. Regarding medical OOPE, medicines were the most common expense, and the mean numbers of days without income were 4.12 days. Both OOPE and indirect costs were significantly different between type of services, with less overall economic burden to the caregivers of elderly hospitalized in the geriatric unit. The final model showed that type of service and satisfaction had the largest coefficients (-0.68 and 0.662 respectively, p<0.001).


This study allowed us to identify associated factors of economic burden in elderly hospitalized in acute care units. It opens as well, an issue that should not be overlooked in framing public policies regarding elderly health care.

Elderly; Caregiver expenses; Acute geriatric care; Out of pocket expenses