Shifting Priorities for the Survival of My Child
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BACKGROUND: Parents are confronted with a range of direct costs and intense caregiving demands following their child's cancer diagnosis, which may potentially threaten the financial stability of the family. OBJECTIVE: The aims of this study were to explore the financial impact of a new childhood cancer diagnosis on families and understand the strategies families use to manage these financial impacts. METHODS: As part of the mixed-methods Childhood Cancer Cost Study, a descriptive qualitative design was conducted. Parents discussed costs and their impact in a semistructured, audio-taped interview. A qualitative content analysis was used to analyze the transcribed data. RESULTS: Seventy-eight parents participated. Parents used several strategies to maintain financial stability. These strategies consisted of managing expenses, which entailed reducing living expenses and cutting unexpected cancer costs. Efforts to absorb these expenses required families to increase their debt while seeking ways to tap into available resources, including relying on their savings and leveraging their benefits and assets, increasing their paid work hours, relying on their support networks, and seeking help from philanthropy and government agencies for financial help. CONCLUSION: Parents used several strategies to manage the increased out-of-pocket expenses and reduced household income. IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE: Our findings of the financial impact of cancer costs on families provide insight into needed practice and policy changes aimed at lessening the economic impact of a childhood cancer diagnosis on the family and allow healthcare professionals and researchers to pursue more in-depth cost assessments in the future.
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