Understanding breast cancer survivors’ financial burden and distress after financial assistance

Jessica N. Semin, David Palm, Lynette M. Smith, Sarah Ruttle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Purpose: Little is known about how breast cancer may impact survivors’ financial well-being. This study aims to investigate the financial status, burden, and opinions of breast cancer survivors who received short-term financial assistance, emotional support, and resource navigation from a community organization during treatment. Methods: Clients previously served by the community organization were mailed a 16-question survey (n = 751) to elicit their perspective on financial status and burden before, during, and after diagnosis and treatment along with general demographic and opinion items. Results: 136 surveys (18.1%) were returned yielding 118 (15.7%) suitable for analyses. Clients’ average age was 54.3 years. Most were female (99.2%), Caucasian (66.1%), and diagnosed with Stage 1 or 2 breast cancer (58.5%). Clients reported significantly worse (p < 0.001) financial status after being diagnosed compared to before diagnosis. Financial distress was highest during cancer treatment (mean = 3.92, SD = 0.85), lowest prior to treatment (mean = 2.48, SD = 1.05), and remained high after treatment (mean = 3.59, SD = 1.05). Those with higher distress after treatment were significantly (p = 0.01) more likely to report lower social support during treatment. Conclusions: Breast cancer survivors reported worsening financial status and distress after being diagnosed and during treatment despite receiving short-term financial assistance, emotional support, and resource navigation. Survivors’ financial distress after treatment remained higher than before treatment. However, most felt receiving financial assistance improved their quality of life and made them feel more in control of financial decision-making. Breast cancer survivors who feel they have low social support during treatment may feel higher financial distress posttreatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalSupportive Care in Cancer
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2020

Keywords

  • Breast cancer
  • Community program
  • Distress
  • Financial toxicity
  • Social support

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology

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