BACKGROUND: Systemic sclerosis (SSc), or systemic scleroderma, is a chronic multisystem autoimmune disease characterised by widespread vascular injury and progressive fibrosis of the skin and internal organs. Patients with SSc have decreased survival, with pulmonary involvement as the main cause of death. Current treatments for SSc manage a range of symptoms but not the cause of the disease. Our review describes the humanistic and cost burden of SSc.
METHODS: A structured review of the literature was conducted, using predefined search strategies to search PubMed, Embase, and the Cochrane Library. Grey literature searches also were conducted.
RESULTS: In total, 2226 articles were identified in the databases and 52 were included; an additional 10 sources were included from the grey literature. The review identified six studies reporting relevant cost estimates conducted in five different countries and four studies that assessed the humanistic burden of SSc. Total direct annual medical costs per patient for Europe varied from €3544 to €8452. For Canada, these costs were reported to be from Can$5038 to Can$10,673. In the United States, the total direct health care costs were reported to be US$17,365 to US$18,396. Different key drivers of direct costs were reported, including hospitalisations, outpatients, and medication. The total annual costs per patient were reported at Can$18,453 in Canada and varied from €11,074 to €22,459 in Europe. Indirect costs represented the largest component of the total costs. EQ-5D utility scores were lower for patients with SSc than those observed in the general population, with reported mean values of 0.49 and 0.68, respectively. The average value of the Health Assessment Questionnaire for patients with SSc was significantly higher than the control population (0.94), and the average value of the SF-36 was significantly lower than the control population: 49.99 for the physical dimension and 58.42 for the mental dimension.
CONCLUSIONS: Overall, there is a paucity of information on the burden of SSc. Nonetheless, our review indicates that the quality of life of patients with SSc is considerably lower than that of the general population. In addition, SSc places a considerable economic burden on health care systems and society as a whole.