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Micro-costing diabetic eye screening: estimation of personal expense, attendance and health care resource use

James, Marilyn; Sampson, Christopher James; van Eker, D.; Harding, S.P.


Professor of Health Economics

Christopher James Sampson

D. van Eker

S.P. Harding


Design of study
Microcosting study with collection and analysis of primary and secondary data on resource use and costs.

To estimate the cost of screening within the NHS Diabetic Eye Screening Programme from a health service and societal perspective. Findings will inform future cost-effectiveness analyses of screening programmes for diabetic retinopathy.

Data were collected from multiple sources for people with diabetes in Liverpool, UK. Within the ISDR trial, 874 participants self-completed a bespoke questionnaire at baseline screening attendance, collecting information on travel, duration and personal expenses associated with the visit. A time study was conducted for 104 screening attendances to capture associated staff costs. Data for over 50,000 screening appointments since 2013 were used to elicit attendance rates and grading activity. Additional resource use estimates, including overheads, were obtained from screening programme staff.

Per visit, people spent on average 90 minutes attending screening, and had on average 32 minutes help from a friend, relative or carer. The mean travel cost associated with screening was £2.50. 18% of people took time off work to attend, and 7% received assistance from someone who took time off work. The productivity loss associated with this time was on average £5 per visit across the population. The duration of screening attendance, dilatation and photography was consistent. Dilatation took on average 4 minutes with 85% lasting 6 minutes or less. Photography took on average 3 minutes, with 93% lasting 5 minutes or less. Attendance was on average 64%.

The primary source of inefficiency in diabetic eye screening is non-attendance. Patients who do not attend (36%) represent a substantial opportunity cost to the health service. Costs associated with personal expense and productivity losses are small, but these must be included when evaluating screening programmes with large eligible populations and major budget impacts. An additional cost of £7.50 per visit equates to a societal burden of around £20 million in the UK.


James, M., Sampson, C. J., van Eker, D., & Harding, S. (2016). Micro-costing diabetic eye screening: estimation of personal expense, attendance and health care resource use

Other Type Other
Acceptance Date Feb 25, 2016
Publication Date Jun 5, 2016
Deposit Date Mar 29, 2017
Journal European Journal of Opthamology
Electronic ISSN 1120-6721
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 26
Issue 4
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information Oral presentation given at the EASDEC Manchester June 2016. Published in European Journal of Opthamology 2016; 26 (4): e89-110 doi:10.5301/ejo.5000799 Congress abstracts. 26th Meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes Eye Complications Study Group (EASDec) Manchester, UK. 23-25 June 2016.