Exploring the relationships between income and emotional/practical concerns and help-seeking by older adult cancer survivors: A secondary analysis
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PurposeThe number of older cancer survivors is growing rapidly and expected to double through the next decade. Survivors can face challenges from treatment as well as other co-morbid conditions which may influence quality of living and generate distress. Understanding more about factors influencing whether older cancer survivors receive the help they desire is important for cancer program planning. The purpose of this analysis was to understand relationships between income and emotional/practical concerns, help-seeking experiences and unmet needs of adults 65+ years one to three years following cancer treatment.
Materials and methodsA survey was conducted with randomly selected Canadian cancer survivors about their survivorship care. Drawing from these publicly available data, this secondary analysis examines prevalence of concerns, help-seeking, receipt of help, reasons for not seeking help, responses to information questions, and overall unmet needs for trends across income groups.
Results7975 respondents 65+ years responded, of which the 5891 (73.9%) indicating annual household income were analyzed. Over 80% responded to questions regarding emotional/practical concerns following treatment with the largest proportions reporting emotional concerns for anxiety/fear of cancer returning (63%) and depression (49%), and practical concerns regarding transportation for appointments (33%) and paying healthcare bills (31%). Individuals with household incomes <$25,000 reported higher levels of concern than other income groups and higher proportions sought assistance for their concerns. Across income levels, 20% reported difficulty finding assistance to address their concerns.
DiscussionOlder cancer survivors across all income categories reported emotional/practical concerns, lack of information about these issues, and unmet needs regarding both emotional and practical concerns. Many encountered challenges obtaining help with those in lower income categories more severely affected despite Canada's universal health care system. Financial burden ought to be assessed with older survivors on an on-going basis to ensure relevant intervention.
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