Live Virtual Presentation Clinical Oncology Society of Australia Annual Scientific Meeting 2020

Financial toxicity - State of Science, Gaps and What's Next? (#124)

Louisa Gordon 1 , Raymond Chan 2
  1. QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, Herston, QUEENSLAND, Australia
  2. School of Nursing, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Qld, Australia

All Australians should be provided with timely access to quality health services based on their needs, not ability to pay, regardless of where they live in the country. The financial stress caused by cancer treatment coupled with poor health outcomes, adversely affects quality of life and psychological symptoms of patients and their carers. Financial hardship has been shown to affect patients‘ access and adherence to treatment and appointments. Australians living in the most socioeconomically disadvantaged areas are likely to be predisposed to greater financial toxicity related to cancer care. There is scarce formal evidence on the economic burden to patients and their families affected by cancer in Australia and we have limited understanding of the extent, nature and duration of financial hardship. Statistics on out-of-pocket expenses to inform policy are infrequently produced and research on financial hardship is difficult, subject to methodological biases with most survey respondents from high socio-economic backgrounds. Studies on lost income and difficulties in returning to work are increasingly important but scarce. In one study, 34% of bereaved Australian parents whose child died from cancer reported losing more than 40% of their household income and one-third fell below the poverty line. This presentation will provide an overview of the current Australian evidence on financial toxicity, identify gaps requiring further attention and present the findings in the context of Australia’s mixed public-private healthcare system. Much more needs to be done to raise awareness of financial strain, equip patients to manage it and reduce high medical expenses. It is critical that future health services are designed to embed measures that ensure access to care and reduce growing health inequities in Australia.