Cancer patients’ perspectives on financial burden in a universal healthcare system: Analysis of qualitative data from participants from 20 provincial cancer centers in Canada
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OBJECTIVE: To seek understanding of financial burden from the perspective of cancer patients, in a largely publicly funded health care system, about the impacts of financial hardship on their lives. METHODS: A qualitative descriptive analysis was completed for comments written in response to an open-ended, free-text item on a pan-Canadian survey about costs incurred during cancer treatment and follow-up and the impact of financial difficulties. RESULTS: A total 378 of the 901 survey respondents provided comments about their financial situations during cancer treatment. Forty percent of those individuals indicated experiencing financial struggles and resulting emotional distress. Themes were identified as follows: cost incurred, reduced income and reserves, impact of costs and reduced financial income/reserve, and managing financial distress. CONCLUSION: Even within a universal health care system, a significant proportion of cancer patients experienced financial struggle and resulting emotional distress. PRACTICE IMPLICATIONS: Regular monitoring of financial and emotional distress and its sources can facilitate the identification of those who are experiencing financial difficulty and the provision of appropriate interventions.
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