Petruzzi, L. J., Prezio, E., Phillips, F., Smith, B., Currin-McCulloch, J., Blevins, C., Gaddis, D., Eckhardt, S. G., Kvale, E., Jones, B.
OBJECTIVE: Financial toxicity is of increasing concern in the United States. The Comprehensive Score for Financial Toxicity (COST) is a validated measure; however, it has not been widely utilized among low-income patients and may not fully capture financial toxicity in this population. Furthermore, the relationships between financial toxicity, quality of life (QOL), and patient well-being are poorly understood. We describe the experience of financial toxicity among low-income adults receiving cancer care. We hypothesized that higher financial toxicity would be associated with less income and lower quality of life. Qualitative interviews focused on the financial impact of cancer treatment. METHOD: This study was conducted at a cancer clinic in Central Texas. Quantitative and qualitative data were collected in Fall and Spring 2018, respectively. The quantitative sample (N = 115) was dichotomized by annual income (<$15,000 vs. >$15,000). Outcomes included financial toxicity (COST), quality of life (FACT-G), and patient well-being (PROMIS measures: Anxiety, Depression, Fatigue, Pain Interference, and Physical Function). Associations between quality of life, patient well-being, and financial toxicity were evaluated using linear regression. Sequential qualitative interviews were conducted with a subsample of 12 participants. RESULTS: Patients with <$15k had significantly lower levels of QOL and patient well-being such as depression and anxiety compared to patients with >$15k across multiple measures. A multivariate linear regression found QOL (Β = 0.17, 95% CI = 0.05, 0.29, p = 0.008) and insurance status (Β = -3.79, 95% CI = -7.42, -0.16, p = 0.04), but not income, were significantly associated with financial toxicity. Three qualitative themes regarding patient’s access to cancer care were identified: obtaining healthcare coverage, maintaining financial stability, and receiving social support. SIGNIFICANCE OF RESULTS: Low-income patients with cancer face unique access barriers and are at risk for forgoing treatment or increased symptom burdens. Comprehensive assessment and financial navigation may improve access to care, symptom management, and reduce strain on social support systems.