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Papers of the Week

2022 Jun 30

Econ Hum Biol


Estimating the causal effect of liability to disease on healthcare costs using Mendelian Randomization.


Dixon P, Harrison S, Hollingworth W, Davies NM, Smith G D
Econ Hum Biol. 2022 Jun 30; 46:101154.
PMID: 35803012.


Accurate measurement of the effects of disease status on healthcare costs is important in the pragmatic evaluation of interventions but is complicated by endogeneity bias. Mendelian Randomization, the use of random perturbations in germline genetic variation as instrumental variables, can avoid these limitations. We used a novel Mendelian Randomization analysis to model the causal impact on inpatient hospital costs of liability to six prevalent diseases and health conditions: asthma, eczema, migraine, coronary heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, and depression. We identified genetic variants from replicated genome-wide associations studies and estimated their association with inpatient hospital costs on over 300,000 individuals. There was concordance of findings across varieties of sensitivity analyses, including stratification by sex and methods robust to violations of the exclusion restriction. Results overall were imprecise and we could not rule out large effects of liability to disease on healthcare costs. In particular, genetic liability to coronary heart disease had substantial impacts on costs.