For a study, researchers sought to comprehend the effects that treatment-related financial burden has on gynecologic cancer patients and to pinpoint areas that may be targeted for treatments to lessen its negative effects.
A qualitative focus group study included participants with gynecologic cancer. Each participant answered inquiries about diagnosis, treatment, work status, and income via a secure online survey. Economic burden was measured using the Comprehensive Score for Financial Toxicity (COST) method (COST score 0-44), with lower values indicating severe toxicity. A social worker and a member of the study team then participated in a virtual, semi-structured focus group with each participant. The transcripts were separately examined by 3 researchers for recurring themes, and differences were settled by consensus.
Among the participants, more than 60% had private insurance, and 54% had moderate to high financial toxicity (COST scores <26). The level of insurance coverage, out-of-pocket medical expenditures, changes in work status, inefficiencies in the health care system, and opportunity costs were the five topics that came up the most frequently. Minor themes were concerns about delayed care, talks with providers, parking, and transportation. More often than those with mild toxicity, individuals with moderate to high toxicity reported stress related to changes in work status, opportunity costs, and health system inefficiencies.
According to the research, patient-centered treatments that improve care coordination and insurance coverage might lessen financial toxicity. Both aims may be instantly actionable and may influence subsequent health outcomes. As system-level remedies, improving work leave regulations and lowering out-of-pocket medical expenses should be taken into account to prevent financial toxicity.