Understanding the strategies rural cancer patients and survivors use to manage financial toxicity and the broader implications on their lives

Skrabal Ross, X., Gunn, K. M., Olver, I.

PURPOSE: To explore strategies rural Australians use to cope with the financial consequences of their cancer diagnosis and how that impacts on their lives. METHODS: Twenty adult cancer patients/survivors residing in regional-remote areas of Australia were purposively sampled and participated in audio-recorded, semi-structured interviews. When data saturation was reached, thematic analysis was employed to analyse the data. RESULTS: Participants were 20-78 years (M=60), 70% female, 35% were undergoing treatment and the remaining 65% had finished treatment within the past 5 years. Three themes provide context to rural financial toxicity-related experiences (travelling to access cancer treatment away from home is expensive, being single or lacking family support exacerbates the financial strain, and no choice other than to adopt cost-saving strategies if wanted to access treatment). Strategies commonly employed to minimise financial toxicity include: accessing travel-related support, changes to lifestyle (buying cheaper food, saving on utilities), accessing savings and retirement funds, missing holidays and social activities, reduced car use and not taking a companion to cancer-related appointments at metropolitan treatment areas. Although cost-saving strategies can effectively increase the ability of rural people to cover cancer treatment-related and other costs, most have broader negative psychological, social and practical consequences for them and their families. CONCLUSIONS: Increasing rural cancer patients’ and survivors’ awareness of various cost-saving strategies and their impact (positive and negative) may decrease their risk of experiencing financial toxicity and unexpected unintended consequences of adopting cost-saving measures.

Health Condition(s): Cancer
Year Published: 2021
UAB the University of Alabama at Birmingham home
UAB is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer committed to fostering a diverse, equitable and family-friendly environment in which all faculty and staff can excel and achieve work/life balance irrespective of race, national origin, age, genetic or family medical history, gender, faith, gender identity and expression as well as sexual orientation. UAB also encourages applications from individuals with disabilities and veterans.