The financial impact of head and neck cancer caregiving: a qualitative study

Myles Balfe, Phyllis Butow, Eleanor O'Sullivan, Rachael Gooberman-Hill, Aileen Timmons, Linda Sharp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)
240 Downloads (Pure)


Background: There is a lack of research on the financial impacts that head and neck cancer has on caregivers.
Objective: To explore the overall financial impact of head and neck cancer on caregivers; to describe the factors that mitigate this impact.
Methods: Interviews with 31 caregivers (mean time caring: 5.7 years).
Results: Head and neck cancer had a considerable financial impact on caregivers. It resulted in out of pocket costs and caregivers and/or their relative/friend with cancer often became under- or un- employed. Caregivers with large debts or ongoing expenses appeared to be particularly vulnerable to cancer-related financial pressures. Finance related psychological stress was prevalent, although some caregivers hid their psychological difficulties from other people. Factors which help caregivers to mitigate financial distress
included having private health insurance and being able to access to medical and/or social welfare benefits.
Conclusions: Head and neck cancer can cause caregivers substantial financial and psychological distress. Distress may be mitigated by providing caregivers and their households with access to welfare benefits. Implications for practice: Health professionals should be aware that head and neck cancer can have short
and long-term financial consequences for caregivers and their families. Health professionals should refer patients and their care givers to medical social workers who can help them with their financial issues.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1441-1447
Number of pages7
Issue number12
Early online date26 Jan 2016
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2016


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