You Have to Keep a Roof Over Your Head: A Qualitative Study of Housing Needs Among Patients With Cancer in New York City

Phillips, S., Raskin, S. E., Harrington, C. B., Brazinskaite, R., Gany, F. M.

PURPOSE: Housing status can become compromised in the wake of financial hardship for some patients with cancer and become a source of disparity. This qualitative study describes the types of housing issues experienced by patients with cancer and survivors of cancer in New York City. METHODS: Semistructured interviews were conducted with a volunteer sample of 21 patients with cancer or survivors of cancer treated in New York City who reported housing needs in the period after diagnosis through survivorship. Nine supplemental interviews were conducted with cancer and housing key informants. Conventional content analysis was conducted on transcripts to create a codebook describing types of housing needs. RESULTS: Patients and survivors most commonly had breast (n = 9) and blood (n = 4) cancers and ranged from recently diagnosed to many years posttreatment. Twenty-nine distinct housing-related issues were identified, which were grouped into the following six major categories: housing costs (eg, rent, mortgage), home loss, doubled up or unstable housing, housing conditions, accessibility (eg, stairs, proximity to amenities), and safety. Issues were often interrelated. Housing needs sometimes predated cancer diagnosis. Other issues newly emerged in the wake of cancer-related physical limitations and disruption to finances. Needs ranged in severity and caused patients and survivors considerable burden during a difficult period of poor health and financial strain. CONCLUSION: This study contributes depth to current understandings of housing needs among patients with cancer and survivors by providing detailed disaggregated descriptions. We recommend increasing availability of services responsive to these needs and exploring promising options such as patient navigation and legal services. Findings also highlight the importance of creative solutions addressing ecologic-level factors such as housing affordability.

Health Condition(s): Cancer
Year Published: 2019
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