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Financial Hardship Linked to More ED Visits in Cancer Survivors

Medical financial hardship linked to lower uptake of influenza vaccine, lower breast cancer screening

couple paying bills

THURSDAY, June 18, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Higher medical and nonmedical financial hardships are associated with a greater number of emergency department visits and lower receipt of some preventive services among cancer survivors, according to a study published in the July 1 issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Zhinyuan Zheng, Ph.D., from the American Cancer Society in Atlanta, and colleagues examined associations between medical and nonmedical financial hardship intensities and health care use and self-rated health among 4,939 cancer survivors aged 18 to 64 years and 6,972 cancer survivors aged ≥65 years.

The researchers observed more emergency department visits for cancer survivors with higher medical financial hardship intensity (level 4 versus level 1: 42 versus 26.2 percent for those aged 18 to 64 years; 37.6 versus 24.3 percent for those aged ≥65 years) and higher nonmedical financial hardship intensity (level 5 versus level 1: 37.2 versus 27.9 percent for those aged 18 to 64 years). Lower influenza vaccine use was seen for cancer survivors with higher medical financial hardship intensity; they also had lower breast cancer screening levels. There were similar patterns observed between higher financial hardship intensities and worse self-rated health.

"Given greater patient cost sharing and rapid development of expensive cancer treatments, the experience of medical and nonmedical financial hardship is likely to increase and may exacerbate cancer-related health disparities," the authors write.

Two authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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