Cancer and its treatment can incur substantial out of pocket costs (OPC) and many patients cannot return to work or deplete savings sooner than anticipated. Australian non-profits such as Cancer Council Victoria offer financial support, however the attributes and experiences of service-users are largely unknown.
This cross-sectional study was part of a larger structured distress screening and referral trial. Eligible patients or carers contacted the Cancer Council Victoria phone-support service and scored >4 on the Distress Thermometer. At 3-month follow up, participants reported discussion and use of financial services, OPC, income, demographic and clinical items.
Of the 524 callers included in this sub-analysis, the majority were: female (77%), patients (56%), middle-aged (median 57yrs), married (65%), lived in major cities (73%), and held private insurance (60%). Median OPC in the past 3 months was $500; 29% reported OPC were higher than expected. Only 21% recalled discussing financial services during the call. Of these, only
32% used financial services. Of the 32%, 75% reported the service was very helpful. Variables significantly associated (p<.05) with discussing financial referral included age, marital status, disease stage, insurance coverage, employment status and absenteeism, and OPC.
Targeted screening to ensure those at high risk of financial toxicity are identified with timely and
streamlined referral to appropriate services is needed. Results will inform development of a screening tool to improve outcomes for those at risk of financial toxicity. Similarly, results will also inform local ongoing service development to ensure programs and services offered by Cancer Council Victoria are targeted to the identified needs of service users, as a compliment to existing services and supports in the wider community.