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Print version ISSN 0120-4157


CORONELL-RODRIGUEZ, Wilfrido; ARTETA-ACOSTA, Cindy; ALVIS-ZAKZUK, Nelson J  and  ALVIS-GUZMAN, Nelson R. Costs of acute otitis media in children in a city of the Colombian Caribbean coast. Biomédica [online]. 2019, vol.39, n.1, pp.75-87. ISSN 0120-4157.


Acute otitis media is the main cause of consultation, antibiotic use, and ambulatory surgery in developed countries; besides, it is associated with an important economic burden. However, non-medical indirect costs of acute otitis media, which are relevant in this pathology, have been underestimated.


To estimate the costs of acute otitis media in pediatric patients in Cartagena, Colombia.

Materials and methods:

We conducted a prospective study of micro-costing between 2014 and 2015. The direct and indirect costs of acute otitis media were determined through forms applied to parents or caregivers. Loss of productivity was estimated based on the monthly legal minimum wage of 2014 (COP $616.000) (USD $308).


A total of 62 episodes of acute otitis media occurred. The total economic costs attributed per episode was COP $358,954 (standard deviation: SD ± COP $254,903, i.e., USD $179). The total economic burden was COP $22,503,141 (USD $11,250), the indirect costs per episode were COP $101,402 (USD $51), and the average care time spent by parents was 3.7 days.


The estimated costs of acute otitis media in this study were lower than the costs estimated in a review of high-income countries and similar to those of low-income countries such as Nigeria. Information on total costs (direct and indirect) of acute otitis media is necessary for public health decision-making and for full cost-effectiveness assessments.

Keywords : Otitis media; costs and cost analysis; health expenditures; direct medical costs; health care costs; cost of illness.

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