Emerging Understanding About the Impact of Financial Toxicity Related to Cancer: Canadian Perspectives

Fitch, M. I., Longo, C. J.

OBJECTIVE: This article offers an overall summary of the current situation concerning cancer-related financial toxicity from the perspective of Canadian patents and survivors. The focus is on describing the financial effects experienced by the patient and survivor and family, which they attribute to the cancer diagnosis, treatment, and other factors that contribute to their financial distress. DATA SOURCES: The information was drawn from peer-reviewed research literature generated by Canadian researchers regarding out-of-pockets costs, loss of income, and the impact of financial burden over the past 2 decades. Priority was given to understanding what patients and survivors and caregivers perceived as financial burden and distress (stress and strain). CONCLUSION: Canadian patients and family members reported financial burden (out-of-pocket costs, loss of income) and financial distress following the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. Heightened distress from financial burden was reported between 38% and 71% within various samples. Patients and survivors indicated the distress and challenges managing the financial situation had a profound impact on their everyday living and quality of life. Many were surprised by the increased costs, given the county’s universal health care system. Baseline financial status, competency in managing finances, and lost wages were significant factors in the distress experienced by patients and family members. IMPLICATIONS FOR NURSING PRACTICE: Oncology nurses need to be aware of financial toxicity as a potential side effect of cancer. It may emerge during treatment but can extend well beyond the end of treatment. Early screening and assessment followed by dialogue about the potential impact with patients and family members is important. Routine monitoring of distress related to financial toxicity should be part of ongoing care with appropriate referral to relevant recourses as needed.

Health Condition(s): Cancer
Year Published: 2021
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