Objective: This study explores the impact that cancer-related financial hardship/worries can have on family life.
Methods: Forty patients (19 male and 21 female) and 17 carers participated in a qualitative study, which drew on certain elements of grounded theory methods. Participants were 18 years or older and were accessed through a regional cancer centre, an acute National Health Service trust, a support group and the Macmillan Benefits Helpline. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and analysed thematically with the aid of nvivo 7 (QSR International, Cambridge, MA, USA).
Results: Many participants said that prior to experiencing cancer, they had never thought about its effects on finances. The early part of the cancer journey was characterised by a need to be positive about the future, limited discussion about money within families and a lack of action in relation to finances. Many participants, especially those of working age, described cancer-related financial worries and difficulties that had impacted on family lifestyle, roles and relationships. Consequences included house repossession, bankruptcy, loss of independence and relationship breakdown.
Conclusions: Health and social care professionals have a role in prompting people affected by cancer to take stock of their finances early in the cancer trajectory, in order to avert knock-on effects. An approach that combines hope with proactivity is needed. More work into the long-term effects of financial difficulties/worries and specific financial issues that affect people from Black and minority ethnic backgrounds is needed. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.