Measuring the financial and productivity burden of paediatric hospitalisation on the wider family network

Virginia Mumford, Melissa T Baysari, Djala Kalinin, Magdalena Z Raban, Cheryl McCullagh, Jonathan Karnon, Joanna I Westbrook

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Aim: To estimate the non-medical out-of-pocket costs for families with a child in hospital.

Methods: This study was a survey of 225 parents of paediatric inpatients on nine wards of an Australian public paediatric teaching hospital on two separate days. Our primary outcomes were the costs associated with: (i) time taken off work to care for the child in hospital; (ii) time off work or contributed by family and friends to care for other dependents; and (iii) travel, meals, accommodation and incidental expenses during the child's stay. Demographic data included postcode (to assess distance, socio-economic status and remoteness), child's age, ward and whether this was their child's first admission.

Results: Mean patient age was 6.5 years (standard deviation 5.2). On an average per patient day basis, parents took 1.12 days off work and spent 0.61 (standard deviation 0.53) nights away from home, with 83.8% of nights away at the child's bedside. Parents spent Australian dollars (AUD)89 per day on travel and AUD36 on meals and accommodation. Total costs (including productivity costs) were AUD589 per patient day. Higher costs per patient day were correlated with living in a more remote area (0.48) and a greater travel distance to the hospital (0.41). A higher number of days off work was correlated (0.69) with number of school days missed.

Conclusion: These results demonstrate the considerable time and financial resources expended by families caring for a child in hospital and are important inputs in evaluating health-care interventions that affect risk of hospitalisation and length of stay in paediatric care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)987-996
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Paediatrics and Child Health
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

© 2018 The Authors Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health published by John Wiley & Sons Australia, Ltd on behalf of Paediatrics and Child Health Division (The Royal Australasian College of Physicians)
This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited and is not used for commercial purpos


  • hospital care
  • non-medical costs
  • out-of-pocket costs
  • paediatrics


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