Background: Helicobacter pylori is regarded as an important cause of both peptic ulcer and chronic gastritis. In particular, seropositivity is highest in patients with duodenal ulcer. No studies have determined whether there are differences in the direct medical costs associated with gastric/duodenal ulcer or inflammation, between seropositive and seronegative patients. Objective: To examine the relationship between seropositivity for H. pylori and outpatient visits and direct medical costs for gastric/duodenal ulcer or inflammation in Japan from the perspective of the payor and patients. Methods: Participants were males (n = 653) who worked for an agricultural co-operative in Fukuoka Prefecture, attended an annual health examination (including a written lifestyle and medical survey), belonged to the same health insurance society consistently for 4 years from April 1996 to March 2000, and provided a blood sample. The survey asked about lifestyle, including smoking and drinking, and past medical history. We retrospectively analysed the annual number of outpatient visits per person and outpatient medical cost (Yen [¥], 2000 values) per person for visits relating to gastric or duodenal ulcer or inflammation using International Classification of Diseases (9th edition) - Clinical Modification codes. We assessed for potential confounding factors using analysis of covariance and the chi-square test. Results: The annual outpatient incidence of disease, the number of visits to physicians, and the medical costs for gastric or duodenal ulcer or inflammation were about 2-fold greater in individuals with antibodies to H. pylori compared with those without antibodies. Conclusion: Population-based studies and/or randomised controlled clinical trials that target high-risk groups and account for the unique way in which data are collected in Japan are needed to determine whether medical costs for gastric and duodenal ulcer might be reduced by treating asymptomatic patients who have antibodies to H. pylori.
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