Financial impact of a cancer diagnosis

Related staff: 
Dr Aileen Timmons (former staff)
Prof Linda Sharp (former staff)
Dr Harry Comber (former staff)
Collaborators & co-investigators: 
Ms Noeleen Donnelly, Irish Cancer Society
Ms Joan Kelly, Irish Cancer Society
Ms Mairead Lyons, Irish Cancer Society
Mr John McCormack, Irish Cancer Society
Ms Niamh Ni Chonghaile, Irish Cancer Society
Ms Eileen O’Donnell, St Vincent’s Hospital, Dublin
Ms Olwyn Ryan, Irish Cancer Society
Funding source: 
Irish Cancer Society

 This project is investigating the financial and economic impact of cancer for patients and their families, using a mixed-methods approach. Three phases of fieldwork have been conducted:

(1)   In-depth semi-structured interviews with Oncology Social Workers

(2)   In-depth semi-structured interviews with survivors of breast, prostate and lung cancer

(3)   A national survey of survivors of breast, prostate and lung cancer.

The results showed that a diagnosis of cancer can have a major financial impact on patients and their families. They may incur a range of additional expenses, including direct medical costs (e.g. doctor consultations, hospital stays, medications, etc) and related non-medical expenses (e.g. travel costs associated with treatment, hospital parking costs, childcare, home-care products/devices, etc). In addition to these extra expenses, patients undergoing treatment may be unable to work or have increased levels of absenteeism, and those caring for patients may also have to take time off work.

The impact of these additional expenses and the loss of income can be far-reaching. Patients and their families may have to cut back on food shopping and days/evenings out or other "treats". They may have problems paying household bills and be forced to dip into savings or borrow money. Financial worries may cause stress and lead to psychological and emotional problems.

Related papers: Related publications: 

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