ASCO: Coping Strategies Used for Cancer-Tied Financial Distress

Most patients use lifestyle-altering strategies and about 40 percent adopt care-altering strategy

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 22, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Coping strategies are frequently adopted for financial distress associated with cancer care, according to research scheduled to be presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology's inaugural Palliative Care in Oncology Symposium, held from Oct. 24 to 25 in Boston.

Ryan Nipp, M.D., from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, and colleagues surveyed 174 adults being treated for solid malignancies in a national copay assistance program. They examined coping strategies for financial distress associated with cancer care, and relationships between covariates.

The researchers found that 89 percent of participants used one or more lifestyle-altering strategies to cope with costs. Thirty-nine percent of participants used a care-altering strategy, most commonly not filling a prescription and taking less medication than prescribed (28 and 23 percent, respectively). Lifestyle-altering strategies adopted included spending less on leisure and basics (77 and 57 percent, respectively); borrowing money (54 percent); and spending savings (50 percent). Younger patients (<65 years) used a higher mean number of coping strategies than older patients (≥65 years). More care-altering strategies were employed by lower-income than higher-income patients. More lifestyle-altering strategies were adopted by patients with more education and shorter chemotherapy duration.

"We found that people use a range of different cost-coping strategies, and we need to engage with patients on their choices and develop screening tools to identify patients who are likely to make potentially harmful decisions about their treatment," Nipp said in a statement.

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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