Finances are a stress for most people. A health crisis like cancer is another highly worrisome experience. When the two are coupled, stress levels can skyrocket.
A new study sought to investigate just how stressed cancer patients are, in an effort to develop new health and financial resources for cancer patients that could not only improve their bottom line, but also their health.
What is financial toxicity?
The Comprehensive Score for Financial Toxicity — appropriately nicknamed COST — surveyed 233 people being treated for advanced cancer. Researchers found that the more reliant patients were on care, the higher their rate of “financial toxicity.”
The study defined financial toxicity as the “anxiety and distress” that stem from medical expenses and the decreased ability to work.
Even just going from one hospital admission to two had a significant impact on the amount of financial strain patients experienced. Other factors that worsened stress were unemployment, lower household incomes and additional physiological distress. Researchers also found that financial toxicity was more common in African-Americans than Caucasians.
Financial resources for cancer patients
The authors of the study said it can be used in a number of ways.
First, since such little data has been collected until now about the financial stress of a cancer diagnosis, the researchers advocated for continued research that is “patient-centered, scientifically derived and clinically relevant.”
The study also shows the work that still needs to be done to provide financial resources for cancer patients.
Lead author Dr. Jonas de Souza told Science Daily “we need to learn how to intervene” to relieve the financial stress that comes with a cancer diagnosis.
Some interventions could be financial counselors being more readily available for patients, as well as targeted efforts to lessen the overall cost of cancer treatments, de Souza said.
After all, stress has been known to increase health risks and inhibit recovery after cancer, so incorporating anxiety-reduction strategies like financial resources not only promotes financial health, but also mental, physical and emotional well-being.
Life Credit also prioritizes the financial health of people facing cancer. With our living benefit loans, we pay up to half of a patient’s life-insurance policy right away — letting them focus on overcoming their cancer and not their finances.