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Keywords:

  • access to care;
  • cancer;
  • health disparities;
  • health-related quality of life;
  • hematologic neoplasms

Abstract

Purpose

Little is known about access to care for hematological cancer patients. This study explored patient experiences of barriers to accessing care and associated financial and social impacts of the disease. Metropolitan versus nonmetropolitan experiences were compared.

Methods

A state-based Australian cancer registry identified adult survivors of hematological cancers (including lymphoma, leukemia and myeloma) diagnosed in the previous 3 years. Survivors were mailed a self-report pen and paper survey.

Findings

Of the 732 eligible survivors, 268 (37%) completed a survey. Forty percent of participants reported at least one locational barrier which limited access to care. Only 2% reported cancer-related expenses had restricted their treatment choices. Almost two-thirds (64%) reported at least one financial or social impact on their daily lives related to cancer. The most frequently reported impacts were the need to take time off work (44%) and difficulty paying bills (21%). Survivors living in a nonmetropolitan location had 17 times the odds of reporting locational or financial barriers compared with those in metropolitan areas. Preferred potential solutions to alleviate the financial and social impacts of the disease were: free parking for tests or treatment (37%), free medications or treatments (29%), and being able to get treatment in their local region (20%).

Conclusions

Providing more equitable access to care for hematological cancer patients in Australia requires addressing distances traveled to attend treatment and their associated financial and social impacts on nonmetropolitan patients. Greater flexibility in service delivery is also needed for patients still in the workforce.