"It was kind of a nightmare, it really was:" financial toxicity among rural women cancer survivors

J Cancer Surviv. 2024 Jun;18(3):1006-1015. doi: 10.1007/s11764-023-01344-x. Epub 2023 Mar 4.


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to examine how rural women cancer survivors experience and manage financial toxicity.

Methods: A qualitative descriptive design was used to explore experiences of financial toxicity among rural women who received cancer treatment. We conducted qualitative interviews with 36 socioeconomically diverse rural women cancer survivors.

Results: Participants were categorized into three groups: (1) survivors who struggled to afford basic living expenses but did not take on medical debt; (2) survivors who took on medical debt but were able to meet their basic needs; and (3) survivors who reported no financial toxicity. The groups differed by financial and job security and insurance type. We describe each group and, for the first two groups, the strategies they used to manage financial toxicity.

Conclusions: Financial toxicity related to cancer treatment is experienced differently by rural women cancer survivors depending on financial and job security and insurance type. Financial assistance and navigation programs should be tailored to support rural patients experiencing different forms of financial toxicity.

Implications for cancer survivors: Rural cancer survivors with financial security and private insurance may benefit from policies aimed at limiting patient cost-sharing and financial navigation to help patients understand and maximize their insurance benefits. Rural cancer survivors who are financially and/or job insecure and have public insurance may benefit from financial navigation services tailored to rural patients that can assist with living expenses and social needs.

Keywords: Cancer survivors; Financial toxicity; Qualitative; Rural; Socioeconomic status.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cancer Survivors* / psychology
  • Female
  • Financial Stress / psychology
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / economics
  • Neoplasms / psychology
  • Neoplasms / therapy
  • Qualitative Research
  • Rural Population*