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Keywords:

  • cancer;
  • family;
  • financial hardship;
  • financial worries;
  • roles;
  • relationships

Abstract

Objective

This study explores the impact that cancer-related financial hardship/worries can have on family life.

Methods

Forty patients (19 male and 21 female) and 17 carers participated in a qualitative study, which drew on certain elements of grounded theory methods. Participants were 18 years or older and were accessed through a regional cancer centre, an acute National Health Service trust, a support group and the Macmillan Benefits Helpline. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and analysed thematically with the aid of nvivo 7 (QSR International, Cambridge, MA, USA).

Results

Many participants said that prior to experiencing cancer, they had never thought about its effects on finances. The early part of the cancer journey was characterised by a need to be positive about the future, limited discussion about money within families and a lack of action in relation to finances. Many participants, especially those of working age, described cancer-related financial worries and difficulties that had impacted on family lifestyle, roles and relationships. Consequences included house repossession, bankruptcy, loss of independence and relationship breakdown.

Conclusions

Health and social care professionals have a role in prompting people affected by cancer to take stock of their finances early in the cancer trajectory, in order to avert knock-on effects. An approach that combines hope with proactivity is needed. More work into the long-term effects of financial difficulties/worries and specific financial issues that affect people from Black and minority ethnic backgrounds is needed. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.