Background: Attention to the economic consequences of cancer has grown as the number of cancer survivors is increasing. Although prevalent among low-income minority survivors, the impact of economic stress on quality of life (QOL) remains largely unexplored.
Methods: Data are reported for 487 predominantly Hispanic low-income women with a primary diagnosis of breast or gynecological cancer and undergoing active treatment or follow-up. Cross-sectional and longitudinal analyses examined the effects of economic concerns on QOL, depression, and anxiety.
Results: Rates of unemployment, medical cost and wage concerns, and financial stress were high in this study population, at baseline, respectively, 70%, 68%, 47%, and 49%. The proportions reporting unemployed status and medical cost concerns stayed flat from baseline to 6 months, followed by a pronounced drop at 12 months. Patient reported rates of lost wage worries increased from baseline to 6 months, followed by a moderate decrease. Functional, emotional, physical, and social-family well-being and depression and anxiety scores exhibited consistent linear improvement from baseline to 12 months. Over 12 months, patients reporting economic concerns had significantly poorer functional, emotional, and affective well-being.
Conclusions: Economic stress is negatively associated with QOL, highlighting the importance of addressing economic stress in low-income women with cancer.