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J Paediatr Child Health. 2003 May-Jun;39(4):254-8.

Economic effects of childhood cancer on families.

Author information

  • 1Department of Preventive and Social Medicine, University of Otago, PO Box 213, Dunedin, New Zealand. john.dockerty@stonebow.otago.ac.nz

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To assess the financial impact of childhood cancer on families.

METHODS:

This was a cross-sectional survey of parents caring for children who were diagnosed with cancer during the period 1990-1993. Self-administered questionnaires were completed by the parents of 237 children from throughout New Zealand with different types of cancer. Dollar amounts were adjusted to the equivalent of December 2000.

RESULTS:

Eighty-six per cent of the 192 living children were well or in remission. A further 45 children had died. The average extra amount spent, because of the child's illness, by the family of a living child in the 30 days prior to participation in the study was NZ$220 (SD NZ$330). On average, this was 13% of the family income after tax. After reported entitlement to compensation from various sources was allowed for, families were left with a mean deficit of NZ$157 (SD NZ$278) for the 30 days. Twelve families had a shortfall of more than NZ$500, including three families that had a shortfall of more than NZ$1000. Expenditure was greater for those whose children spent more time in hospital (P = 0.003). There was no significant association between the total cost and the distance travelled to the treatment centre (P = 0.96). For 24 families, after-tax income in the month prior to participation in the study was at least NZ$500 lower than it had been in the month before the child's diagnosis. Thirty-seven per cent of families reported that they needed to borrow money because of the financial effects of the child's illness. Bereaved parents spent an average of NZ$3065 (SD NZ$2168) on funeral expenses.

CONCLUSION:

There is a large financial burden on families who have a child with cancer.

PMID:
12755929
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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