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01.12.2014 | Research | Ausgabe 1/2014 Open Access

Globalization and Health 1/2014

The economic burden of diabetes in India: a review of the literature

Globalization and Health > Ausgabe 1/2014
Charles AK Yesudian, Mari Grepstad, Erica Visintin, Alessandra Ferrario
Wichtige Hinweise

Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (doi:10.​1186/​s12992-014-0080-x) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

Competing interests

AF received travel reimbursement and speaker fees from Novo Nordisk for delivering two presentations on diabetes in EU5 at national diabetes conferences in Portugal and Spain.

Authors’ contributions

All authors contributed to the literature review and in the appraisal of the retrieved information. CAKJ wrote the first draft, MG and EV analysed the data and redrafted subsequent versions of the article with the input of AF up to its final version. All authors contributed to the critical revision of the article for important intellectual content and approved the final manuscript.



Diabetes and its complications are a major cause of morbidity and mortality in India, and the prevalence of type 2 diabetes is on the rise. This calls for an assessment of the economic burden of the disease.


To conduct a critical review of the literature on cost of illness studies of diabetes and its complications in India.


A comprehensive literature review addressing the study objective was conducted. An extraction table and a scoring system to assess the quality of the studies reviewed were developed.


A total of nineteen articles from different regions of India met the study inclusion criteria. The third party payer perspective was the most common study design (17 articles) while fewer articles (n =2) reported on costs from a health system or societal perspective. All the articles included direct costs and only a few (n =4) provided estimates for indirect costs based on income loss for patients and carers. Drug costs proved to be a significant cost component in several studies (n =12). While middle and high-income groups had higher expenditure in absolute terms, costs constituted a higher proportion of income for the poor. The economic burden was highest among urban groups. The overall quality of the studies is low due to a number of methodological weaknesses. The most frequent epidemiological approach employed was the prevalence-based one (n =18) while costs were mainly estimated using a bottom up approach (n =15).


The body of literature on the costs of diabetes and its complications in India provides a fragmented picture that has mostly concentrated on the direct costs borne by individuals rather than the healthcare system. There is a need to develop a robust methodology to perform methodologically rigorous and transparent cost of illness studies to inform policy decisions.
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