Christopher D'Avella, Peter Whooley, Emily Milano, Brian Egleston, Martin Edelman, James Helstrom, Kenneth Patrick and Jessica Bauman
Caitlin R. Meeker, Yu-Ning Wong, Brian L. Egleston, Michael J. Hall, Elizabeth R. Plimack, Lainie P. Martin, Margaret von Mehren, Bianca R. Lewis and Daniel M. Geynisman
Background: Although financial distress is commonly recognized in patients with cancer, it may be more prevalent in younger adults. This study sought to evaluate disparities in overall and financial distress in patients with cancer as a function of age. Methods: This was a single-center cross-sectional study of patients with solid malignancies requiring cancer therapy. The patient questionnaire included demographics, financial concerns, and measures of overall and financial distress. Data analyses compared patients in 3 age groups: young (<50 years), middle-aged (50–64 years), and elderly (≥65 years). Results: The cohort included 119 patients (median age, 62 years; 52% female; 84% white; 100% insured; 36% income ≥$75,000). Significant financial concerns included paying rent/mortgage (P=.003) and buying food (P=.032). Impact of Event Scale (IES) results revealed significant distress in 73% young, 64% middle-aged, and 44% elderly patients. The mean Distress Thermometer (DT) score was 6.1 (standard deviation [SD], 2.9) for young patients, 5.4 (SD, 2.6) for middle-aged, and 4.4 (SD, 3.3) for elderly patients. Young patients were more likely than elderly patients to have a higher IES distress score (P=.016) and DT score (P=.048). The mean InCharge score was lowest (indicating greatest financial distress) in the young group and progressed with age: 5.0 (SD, 1.9), 5.7 (SD, 2.7), and 7.4 (SD, 1.9), respectively (P<.001). Multivariable analyses revealed that the relationship between financial distress and overall distress was strongest in the middle-age group; as the DT increased by 1 point, the InCharge scores decreased by 0.52 (P<.001). Conclusions: Overall and financial distress are more common in young and middle-aged patients with cancer. There are several factors, including employment, insurance, access to paid sick leave, children, and education, that affect younger and middle-aged adults and are less of a potential stressor for elderly individuals.