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Increased Health Care Utilization in Dementia Subtypes Before Diagnosis

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Prior studies have reported higher health care utilization (HCU) leading up to diagnosis of the Alzheimer disease and related dementia (ADRD), but none have assessed variation in HCU by ADRD subtype or examined disease-specific HCU. The objectives of this study were to identify ADRD subtypes and: (1) characterize all-cause and (2) disease-specific HCU during the 3 years preceding diagnosis, and (3) determine if HCU varied by ADRD subtype.


We used data from the OptumLabs Data Warehouse 2008 to 2014 to identify ADRD subtypes (total N=36,838) using an algorithm based on temporal sequencing of diagnoses and provider type. Annual counts of all-cause and disease-specific HCU in each of the 3 years preceding ADRD diagnosis were regressed on ADRD subtypes with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) as the reference group, year, and other variables.


HCU increased over time, was highest in the outpatient setting, and varied by ADRD subtype. Compared with MCI, highest HCU was observed in vascular and nonspecific dementia. Compared with MCI, most subtypes had elevated disease-specific HCU.


Variation in HCU by ADRD subtype points to different pathways to diagnosis and patterns of use.
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Keywords: Alzheimer disease and related dementias; administrative claims data; dementia subtype; health care utilization

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: University of Maryland School of Medicine 2: University of Maryland School of Pharmacy, Baltimore, MD 3: University of Maryland School of Pharmacy, Baltimore, MD, National Health Council, Washington, DC, OptumLabs, Visiting Fellow, Cambridge, MA

Publication date: October 1, 2018

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