Albelda, R., Wiemers, E., Hahn, T., Khera, N., Salas Coronado, D. Y., Abel, G. A.
PURPOSE: The US does not have universal paid family and medical leave. We examine the direct effects of access to paid leave on patient-reported health, quality of life (QOL), and perceived stress of employed patients who underwent bone marrow transplantation (BMT) to treat advanced blood cancer as well as the indirect effects through reductions in the financial burden (FB) that patients face. METHODS: Our cross-sectional observational study took place at three US transplantation centers in 2014 and 2015. All English-speaking cancer patients 6-month post-BMT were mailed a 43-item survey assessing financial situation, employer benefits, and patient-reported health outcomes. The sample includes the 171 respondents who were employed at the time of BMT. RESULTS: Seemingly unrelated regression analysis confirms that patient access to paid leave was associated with reductions in all three measures of FB, and lower levels of financial hardship were related with improved health, QOL, and perceived stress outcomes. For self-reported health and perceived stress outcomes, all of the effects of patient paid leave operate indirectly through reductions in FB. For QOL outcomes, there is both a direct effect (over 80%) of paid leave and an indirect effect through reduction of FB. CONCLUSION: We found that paid leave affected health outcomes for BMT patients mostly through alleviating FB. These findings suggest universal paid leave policies in the US might alleviate financial hardship and have positive effects on the self-reported QOL of employed patients facing intensive medical treatments.