New tool for cancer patients measures the stress of expenses

ScienceDaily. Published online: October 7 2016

For many patients, the uncertainty and stress that can come with cancer treatment is compounded by what is now known as “financial toxicity,” the anxiety and distress that follow health care and medication expenses, often compounded by reduced ability to work.

In the October 5, 2016, issue of the journal Cancer, a team of specialists demonstrates how a survey can measure a patient’s risk for, and ability to tolerate, financial stress.

With data from 233 patients going through treatment for advanced cancers, the researchers showed that the COST (COmprehensive Score for financial Toxicity) questionnaire identified patients at financial distress, which was found to be a “clinically relevant patient-centered measure.”

“As expected, we found a strong association between a patient’s use of health care resources and his or her sense of financial toxicity,” said the study’s lead author Jonas de Souza, MD, MBA, a head-and-neck cancer specialist and health services researcher at the University of Chicago Medicine. “This is something we need to look for, to recognize early and make sure it does not become a barrier to care.”

More than two admissions to the hospital, for example, had a significant impact on a patient’s sense of financial toxicity. “This is reasonable,” de Souza said. “Hospital care is much more expensive than office-based care. We now know that it also impacts a patient’s self-reported financial feelings.”

Read the full commentary here

Read the original research article here

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