Availability and Accessibility of Cancer Care Delivery Approaches to Reduce Financial Toxicity of Rural and Urban Cancer Patients in Kentucky

Jean Edward, William Bowling, Holly Chitwood, Robin Vanderpool

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Cancer care delivery approaches to address financial toxicity among cancer patients are not well-established, especially in rural communities.

OBJECTIVES: To identify healthcare staff perspectives of financial toxicity experienced by cancer patients and to examine staff- and systems-level cancer care delivery approaches for addressing financial toxicity, with a focus on rural cancer survivors in Kentucky.

METHODS: We conducted key informant interviews using a semistructured interview guide with cancer center staff who provided financial navigation and/or assistance to oncology patients and their caregivers at 15 cancer centers in Kentucky.

RESULTS: Findings from this study revealed several key factors related to the availability and accessibility of cancer care delivery approaches at patient, staff, and system levels for reducing financial toxicity and improving access to care for rural and urban cancer survivors. Participants perceived high financial toxicity among cancer patients, especially in rural regions, related to the high cost of cancer care, as well the patients' limited ability to engage in cost-of-care conversations, low cost-related health literacy, and challenges in navigating cancer care. The availability of trained financial navigators/counselors dedicated solely to assisting the cancer patient population was limited, as was the use of standardized and proactive screening methods for financial toxicity. While in-house and external financial assistance programs were frequently tapped into, there were limitations in the navigators' ability to provide cost estimates based on insurance coverage and in assisting patients with applying for health insurance. Gaps in cancer care delivery approaches to reduce financial toxicity of patients included enhanced transportation options, additional financial navigation staff, early assessment of patient financial barriers and concerns, increased cost transparency, and enhanced cost-of-care conversations between patients and clinicians.

CONCLUSION: Establishing sustainable oncology-designated financial navigation roles is imperative to expanding patient support and improving health and financial outcomes of cancer patients. Future research is needed to gather evidence that informs programs targeted at mitigating financial toxicity of cancer patients in rural communities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)156-164
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of oncology navigation & survivorship
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2022


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