Assessing the financial toxicity in Tunisian cancer patients using the Comprehensive Score for Financial Toxicity (COST)

Mejri, N., Berrazega, Y., Boujnah, R., Rachdi, H., El Benna, H., Labidi, S., Boussen, H.

BACKGROUND: Cancer care-related out-of-pocket expenses and financial toxicity (FT) are a rising burden for patients. We aimed to evaluate patient-reported FT and to identify relevant correlates within a Tunisian population. METHODS: We conducted a survey using the 11-item Comprehensive Score for Financial Toxicity (COST) that could range from 0 = high to 44 = low. FT was grade 0 if ≥ 26, grade 1 = (14-25), grade 2 = (1-13), and grade 3 = 0. Scores were collected along with data regarding patient medical/social features and out-of-pocket expenses. Univariate and multivariate analyses were performed to identify factors associated with higher financial burden. RESULTS: Among the 179 participants, median COST score was 20.8 (Q1 17-Q3 24), with 80.4% of patients experiencing financial toxicity: grade 0 = 20%, grade 1 = 68.4%, grade 2 = 11.7%, grade 3 = 0%. Most patients (66.5%) used to work before cancer and 44.7% reported ceasing work because of cancer. The time to go to the hospital was > 30 min in 66.5% of cases. Unemployment, time to hospital > 30 min, ceasing work because of cancer, and expenses on non-chemotherapy drugs exceeding 70 dinars (25 US dollars) were mostly associated with higher FT on univariate analysis. Distance to hospital and ceasing work because of cancer were the single most significant factors in multivariate analysis. CONCLUSIONS: Losing work due to cancer and unequal distribution of health care particularly in cities with long travel times to the nearest hospital are the main sources of financial distress.

Topic(s): Economic Burden
Health Condition(s): Cancer
Year Published: 2021
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