Economic stress among low-income women with cancer: effects on quality of life

Cancer. 2008 Feb 1;112(3):616-25. doi: 10.1002/cncr.23203.


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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anxiety / physiopathology
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Breast Neoplasms / economics
  • Breast Neoplasms / ethnology
  • Breast Neoplasms / physiopathology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Depression / physiopathology
  • Depression / psychology
  • Female
  • Genital Neoplasms, Female / economics
  • Genital Neoplasms, Female / ethnology
  • Genital Neoplasms, Female / physiopathology*
  • Genital Neoplasms, Female / psychology*
  • Hispanic Americans / psychology
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Poverty*
  • Quality of Life*
  • Social Class*