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Pre-diagnosis employment status and financial circumstances predict cancer-related financial stress and strain among breast and prostate cancer survivors

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Linda Sharp


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Cancer may have a significant financial impact on patients, but the characteristics that predispose patients to cancer-related financial hardship are poorly understood. We investigated factors associated with cancer-related financial stress and strain in breast and prostate cancer survivors in Ireland, which has a complex mixed public-private healthcare system.Postal questionnaires were distributed to 1373 people diagnosed with cancer 3-24 months previously identified from the National Cancer Registry Ireland. Outcomes were cancer-related financial stress (impact of cancer diagnosis on household ability to make ends meet) and financial strain (concerns about household financial situation since cancer diagnosis). Modified Poisson regression was used to estimate relative risks (RR) for factors associated with cancer-related financial stress and strain.Seven hundred forty survivors participated (response rate = 54 %). Of the respondents, 48 % reported cancer-related financial stress and 32 % cancer-related financial strain. Compared to those employed at diagnosis, risk of cancer-related financial stress was significantly lower in those not working (RR = 0.71, 95 % CI 0.58-0.86) or retired (RR = 0.48, 95 % CI 0.34-0.68). It was significantly higher in those who had dependents; experienced financial stress pre-diagnosis; had a mortgage/personal loans; had higher direct medical out-of-pocket costs; and had increased household bills post-diagnosis. For cancer-related financial strain, significant associations were found with dependents, pre-diagnosis employment status and pre-diagnosis financial stress; risk was lower in those with higher direct medical out-of-pocket costs.Cancer-related financial stress and strain are common. Pre-diagnosis employment status and financial circumstances are important predictors of post-diagnosis financial wellbeing. These findings could inform development of tools to identify patients/survivors most in need of financial advice and support.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Sharp L, Timmons A

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Supportive Care in Cancer

Year: 2016

Volume: 24

Issue: 2

Pages: 699-709

Print publication date: 01/02/2016

Online publication date: 05/07/2015

Acceptance date: 22/06/2015

ISSN (print): 0941-4355

ISSN (electronic): 1433-7339

Publisher: Springer


DOI: 10.1007/s00520-015-2832-4


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Funder referenceFunder name
Irish Cancer Society
IS1211COST Action