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Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2013 Oct;22(10):1668-76. doi: 10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-13-0421.

Impact of rural residence on forgoing healthcare after cancer because of cost.

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Authors' Affiliations: Social Science and Health Policy, Epidemiology and Prevention, Biostatistical Sciences, Division of Public Health Sciences, Wake Forest School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, North Carolina; Health Services and Economics Branch, Applied Research Program, Division of Cancer Control and Population Science, National Cancer Institute, Rockville, Maryland.



Routine follow-up care is recommended to promote the well-being of cancer survivors, but financial difficulties may interfere. Rural-urban disparities in forgoing healthcare due to cost have been observed in the general population; however, it is unknown whether this disparity persists among survivors. The purpose of this study was to examine rural-urban disparities in forgoing healthcare after cancer due to cost.


We analyzed data from 7,804 cancer survivors in the 2006 to 2010 National Health Interview Survey. Logistic regression models, adjusting for sociodemographic and clinical characteristics, were used to assess rural-urban disparities in forgoing medical care, prescription medications, and dental care due to cost, stratified by age (younger: 18-64, older: 65+).


Compared with urban survivors, younger rural survivors were more likely to forgo medical care (P < 0.001) and prescription medications (P < 0.001) due to cost; older rural survivors were more likely to forgo medical (P < 0.001) and dental care (P = 0.05). Rural-urban disparities did not persist among younger survivors in adjusted analyses; however, older rural survivors remained more likely to forgo medical [OR = 1.66, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.11-2.48] and dental care (OR = 1.54, 95%CI = 1.08-2.20).


Adjustment for health insurance and other sociodemographic characteristics attenuates rural-urban disparities in forgoing healthcare among younger survivors, but not older survivors. Financial factors relating to healthcare use among rural survivors should be a topic of continued investigation.


Addressing out-of-pocket costs may be an important step in reducing rural-urban disparities in healthcare, especially for older survivors. It will be important to monitor how healthcare reform efforts impact disparities observed in this vulnerable population.

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