Indian Journal of Palliative Care
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Year : 2021  |  Volume : 27  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 118--125

Exploring the financial toxicities of patients with locally advanced head and neck malignancies, being treated in a private sector hospital in North India: A thematic analysis

1 Consultant Palliative and Pain Medicine, Hospice India, New Delhi, India
2 Senior Finance and Economics Expert, Founder Ascent Wealth Desk, Visiting Faculty- Delhi University, New Delhi, India
3 Senior Consultant Medical Oncology, Max Super Specialty Hospital, New Delhi, India
4 Principal Consultant Medical Oncology, Max Super Specialty Hospital, New Delhi, India
5 Chief Radiation Oncology and Senior Director, Max Super Specialty Hospital, New Delhi, India
6 Senior Consultant, Paediatric Oncology, Max Super Speciality Hospital, New Delhi, India

Correspondence Address:
Saurabh Joshi
KD 75, Pitampura, Delhi – 110 088
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/IJPC.IJPC_53_20

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Background: The high cost of cancer diagnosis and treatment is a global concern. Evidence derived, mostly from high-income countries, shows how it gradually impacts the personal and household financial condition causing the increased psychosocial burden of the patient and their families (termed “financial toxicity”). Aim: To qualitatively explore the financial toxicities in patients with advanced head and neck malignancies in India, and to consider how it impacts the patient and his family. Methods: Interviewing a purposive sample of 8 patients using semi-structured interviews face to face. Interviews were transcribed verbatim, and a thematic content analysis was carried out. Results: Four major themes were identified: burden and amplifying factors, impact, rescue and relieving factors, and learning and innovation. The burden of cost relates to diagnosis, treatment and non-medical costs which gets amplified while navigating the healthcare labyrinth. Emerging themes describe financial journey of cancer patients, the issues faced by them and the ways they tackle these issues during their treatment. Healthcare system factors like limited availability of adequate/comprehensive/meaningful insurance and reimbursements potentiate the toxicity. The financial toxicity leads to a significant adverse financial, psychological and social impact on the patient and the family. While moving through the process of care, there were a few learnings and innovations which patients proposed. Conclusion: This study provides qualitative evidence of the considerable and pervasive nature of financial toxicity in head and neck cancer patients in India. The findings have implications for all cancer patients and highlight the unmet need of psychosocial support for these patients.


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