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Pediatr Blood Cancer. 2018 Dec;65(12):e27380. doi: 10.1002/pbc.27380. Epub 2018 Aug 1.

Feasibility of systematic poverty screening in a pediatric oncology referral center.

Zheng DJ1,2, Shyr D3,4, Ma C4,5, Muriel AC6, Wolfe J1,4,5,6, Bona K1,4,5,7.

Author information

Department of Medicine, Boston Children's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts.
Department of Pediatrics, Boston Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts.
Department of Biostatistics, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts.
Department of Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts.
Department of Pediatric Oncology, Dana-Farber/Boston Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders Center, Boston, Massachusetts.
Department of Psychosocial Oncology and Palliative Care, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, Massachusetts.
Center for Outcomes and Population Research, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, Massachusetts.



Based on the strong link between poverty and child health outcomes, both the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and national pediatric oncology associations have advocated for routine clinical poverty screening. Systematic implementation of this recommendation in pediatric oncology is not yet standard, and feasibility data are needed. We report the feasibility of routine poverty screening in a pediatric oncology referral center and baseline poverty characteristics of this population.


From 2013 to 2017, 448 families with newly diagnosed pediatric cancer at Dana-Farber/Boston Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders Center were offered the Psychosocial Assessment Tool 2.0 (PAT) as part of routine care. The PAT includes a two-item screen for household material hardship (HMH). All families were asked about annual household income by a resource specialist. Data were abstracted with sociodemographic and child/disease characteristics. Descriptive statistics are reported.


Four hundred and thirteen families completed the PAT (response rate 92%), of whom 394 (95%) completed specific questions assessing for HMH. Ninety-four percent of families who met with a resource specialist disclosed their annual household income. One quarter (27%) of families was ≤200% federal poverty level at diagnosis, and 44% of families endorsed at least one domain of HMH. The most frequent domains of HMH included housing (24%), utilities (20%), and transportation (20%).


Systematic poverty screening per AAP and pediatric oncology psychosocial standards of care is feasible in routine cancer care. There is a high baseline incidence (44%) of HMH in at least one domain in families with newly diagnosed pediatric cancer who may benefit from early identification and resource intervention.


health services; household material hardship; poverty screening; psychosocial care

[Available on 2019-12-01]
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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