This study aims to identify the impact of a preterm birth on financial and emotional burden from the families' perspective. Additionally, a comprehensive schedule of recommendations for a sufficient evaluation of all aspects of burden is developed. Based on the results of a literature search relevant categories and sub-domains for a questionnaire covering multiple aspects of associated financial and emotional burden are identified and converted into a recommendation scheme. Results of the literature search illustrate the large extend of burden of prematurity on parents. This results in substantial out-of-pocket expenditures (OOPE) and emotional distress to the parents besides the medical problems and further financial costs to the health insurance system. According to the results on infants' state of health, OOPE and emotional distress are significantly increased with decreasing gestational age. OOPE for transportation often amounts to the main parental cost dimension. Moreover there is some evidence for a high magnitude of reduced income and missed work days. The family perspective has to be taken into account when calculating the overall costs of preterm births from a societal point of view. However, in recent years economic evaluations were performed rather inhomogeneously in this field. For future studies a) direct medical costs, b) direct non-medical costs, c) indirect costs as well as d) intangible costs (in terms of emotional distress and reduced quality of life for caregivers and children) are the main categories that should be evaluated measuring personal burden of preterm birth on families adequately. A detailed list of specific sub-domains is given. Additionally, the recommendations are not restricted to application in infants born preterm and/or at low birth weight.
preterm birth low birth weight burden of disease parents out-of-pocket expenditures quality of life emotional distress