The term financial toxicity (FT) is used to describe financial distress or hardship as an outcome of cancer and its treatment. Financial burden can negatively affect quality of life in cancer survivors, especially emotional and physical well-being. There is a potential for FT to be alleviated in the primary care setting. However, little is known about the potential role of General Practitioners (GPs) in addressing FT in cancer patients.
The aim of this study was to understand GPs’ perspectives on addressing FT amongst cancer patients in the primary care setting, as well as support and tools that may be required to facilitate delivery of care.
GPs were recruited through PC4 and other professional networks. Semi-structured interviews via the telephone were used to collect data. The data was analysed using inductive thematic analysis techniques.
A total of 20 GPs from across Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria participated in the study. Responses were diverse and often dependent on GP practice setting, patient population and the GPs’ experience caring for people with cancer. Most GPs feel they should play a role in supporting FT in cancer patients if they are equipped with the right information. Discussions about private vs public care are often driven by insurance, perceptions of patients’ socioeconomic status and the GP’s past experience with specialists and systems. Many identified that improved cost information resources would assist these conversations. GPs often felt that communication between specialists and GPs, especially in the public sector, needed to be improved in the treatment and survivorship phases to equip them to better support their patient’s financial burden associated with cancer. However most also identified that FT in the palliation phase is already supported well by changing billing processes and collaboration with established palliative care teams.
If supported with the right information GPs can play an important role in helping to address FT associated with cancer and its treatments.