Logistic burdens of cancer care: A qualitative study

Allison C. Dona, Patricia I. Jewett, Sharon Hwee, Katherine Brown, Matia Solomon, Arjun Gupta, Deanna Teoh, Guang Yang, Julian Wolfson, Yingling Fan, Anne H. Blaes, Rachel I. Vogel

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Cancer treatment often creates logistic conflicts with everyday life priorities; however, these challenges and how they are subjectively experienced have been largely unaddressed in cancer care. Our goal was to describe time and logistic requirements of cancer care and whether and how they interfered with daily life and well-being. We conducted interviews with 20 adults receiving cancer-directed treatment at a single academic cancer center. We focused on participants perception of the time, effort, and energy-intensiveness of cancer care activities, organization of care requirements, and preferences in how to manage the logistic burdens of their cancer care. Participant interview transcripts were analyzed using an inductive thematic analysis approach. Burdens related to travel, appointment schedules, healthcare system navigation, and consequences for relationships had roots both at the system-level (e.g. labs that were chronically delayed, protocol-centered rather than patient-centered bureaucratic requirements) and in individual circumstances (e.g. greater stressors among those working and/or have young children versus those who are retired) that determined subjective burdensomeness, which was highest among patients who experienced multiple sources of burdens simultaneously. Our study illustrates how objective burdens of cancer care translate into subjective burden depending on patient circumstances, emphasizing that to study burdens of care, an exclusive focus on objective measures does not capture the complexity of these issues. The complex interplay between healthcare system factors and individual circumstances points to clinical opportunities, for example helping patients to find ways to meet work and childcare requirements while receiving care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0300852
JournalPloS one
Issue number4 April
StatePublished - Apr 2024

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