Financial and family burden associated with cancer treatment in Ontario, Canada

Support Care Cancer. 2006 Nov;14(11):1077-85. doi: 10.1007/s00520-006-0088-8. Epub 2006 May 30.


Goals of work: To determine the financial and family resources burden associated with the treatment of cancer. A questionnaire was developed to determine the direct monthly "out-of-pocket costs" (OOPC), the indirect costs, and the associated perceived family burden.

Materials and methods: A self-administered questionnaire using a quota sample from five cancer clinics in Ontario, Canada was given to 282 cancer patients (74 breast, 70 colorectal, 68 lung, and 70 prostate). Monthly OOPC were obtained for: drugs, home care, homemaking, complementary and alternative medicines, vitamins and supplements, family care, travel, parking, accommodations, devices, and others. The questionnaire asked if OOPC for treatment were a burden, and if others took time from work to provide caregiving.

Main results: The mean monthly OOPC was $213, with an additional $372 related to imputed travel costs. For those patients who responded that the burden was "significant" (16.5%), their OOPC was $452. In the case of patients responding that their burden was "unmanageable" (3.9%), their OOPC was $544. The survey showed that 35.6% of patients required others to take time from work and this was higher in the under-65 category. The mean number of days lost from work in the previous 30 days for these caregivers was 7 days.

Conclusions: These results suggest the financial burden is problematic for 20% of this sample. The caregivers' lost time from work influence this burden, and for 36% of this sample, it amounts to one third of their working days in any given month. Policies and programs to address these gaps are needed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Breast Neoplasms / economics
  • Breast Neoplasms / therapy
  • Caregivers* / economics
  • Caregivers* / psychology
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / economics
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / therapy
  • Cost of Illness*
  • Dependency, Psychological
  • Employment
  • Female
  • Health Care Costs
  • Humans
  • Linear Models
  • Lung Neoplasms / economics
  • Lung Neoplasms / therapy
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / economics*
  • Neoplasms / psychology
  • Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Ontario / epidemiology
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / economics
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / therapy
  • Research Design
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires