A prospective evaluation of patient perspectives and financial considerations during prostate cancer treatment decision-making
Keywords:Cancer, Prostatic Neoplasms, Social Determinants of health, Health Literacy, Financial Toxicity, Income, Prostate Cancer
INTRODUCTION: In universal healthcare systems, patients may still encounter financial obstacles from cancer treatments, potentially influencing treatment decision-making. We investigated the relationship between socioeconomic status and treatment decision-making as it pertains to patient values, preferences, and perceived barriers to care for localized prostate cancer.
METHODS: We conducted a prospective study of patients undergoing a prostate biopsy for the initial detection of prostate cancer. Sociodemographic variables were collected, with validated instruments used to determine health literacy levels. Patients were divided into two groups using self-reported income; those with a positive identification of prostate cancer underwent additional surveys to ascertain their knowledge of their diagnosis, treatment-related preferences, and socioeconomic barriers to care. Descriptive statistics were used.
RESULTS: Of 160 patients, approximately one-third were classified as having low health literacy. Within the low-income group, education levels were lower (34.6% had less than high school education vs. 10.2% in the high-income group) and unemployment rates higher (75.0% unemployed vs. 38.9% in the high-income group). Low-income patients with prostate cancer placed greater importance on indirect out-of-pocket expenses related to treatment (78.3% vs. 33.3%, p=0.001), higher emphasis on treatment-related travel time (50% vs. 15.1%, p=0.004), and more often had difficulty paying for healthcare services in the past (30.9% vs. 9.1%, p=0.02).
CONCLUSIONS: Patients with lower household incomes have unique treatment values and decision-making preferences. They may experience additional challenges and barriers to obtaining cancer care, at least partly related to indirect costs. These findings should be considered when framing prostate cancer treatment discussions and designing patient-facing health information.
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