Hispanic Ethnicity Predicted Higher Patient-Reported Financial Distress

Patient-reported financial distress was high among patients with cancer from a national sample that had utilized at least one financial resource provided by Family Reach, a non-profit entity dedicated to removing financial barriers between cancer patients and their treatment. This was especially true for Hispanic patients and those with lower annual income, according to a study presented at the 2021 ASCO Quality Care Symposium.

“Financial toxicity is characterized by the financial burden that patients face and is a rapidly growing challenge in cancer care,” according to the study researchers. “Patients and providers are seldom aware of available resources to help mitigate this growing problem.”

Family Reach delivers financial education, financial planning, resource navigation, and emergency relief funds to patients and caregivers facing a cancer diagnosis. In this study, the researchers conducted a comprehensive evaluation of financial toxicity among 330 survey respondents who had received at least one financial support resource from Family Reach between January 2020 and June 2020.

About half (46%) of respondents reported a financial distress level of seven of higher on a ten-point scale for the previous week. High distress was reported for 62% of Hispanic/Latinx respondents, 44% of African American respondents and 42% of Non-Hispanic White responders.

A multivariable regression analysis showed that Hispanic/Latinx ethnicity was associated with a higher distress rating and higher patients-reported financial stress. The majority of households reported an annual income less than $50,000. Of the respondents, 14% reported an annual household income of $0 to $10,000, 11.5% of $10,000 to $19,999, and 12% from $20,000 to $29,999. Multivariable analysis also showed that lower annual household income was associated with lower reports of feeling in financial control, lowers reports of meeting monthly expenses, and higher reports of financial stress.

“Our findings suggest that patients of underrepresented minorities may have higher baseline distress but may also stand to benefit more from targeted financial interventions such as the ones Family Reach provides,” the researchers said. “Using our existing resources and organizations is an essential next step for patients and providers alike to help mitigate the growing challenge of financial toxicity and has the potential to address disparities and affordability of cancer care.”