Providing Inbuilt Economic Resilience Options: An obligation of comprehensive cancer care

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Abstract

For many, a cancer death in the family is the immediately obvious part of what is actually a double devastation. Overwhelming financial damage also results for many families, from the cost of medical care and from the loss of earning power by the patient and family. For some families, the consequences may be multigenerational and can affect the health of the survivors. Although this situation is not limited to cancer, the authors argue that oncology can take a lead in attending to these consequences of cancer as an integral part of its commitment to comprehensive cancer care. They make this case for both the national and the international settings. They also articulate and illustrate the notion of inbuilt options for economic resilience (IERs), which the authors suggest the medical industry, and its cancer care sectors in particular, should be providing to all patients and their families if they are at risk for damaging financial losses. After describing key features to IER, the authors illustrate it with 1 type of approach for households of the terminally ill: hospice care with provision of supplementary training and certification to the family caregiver. Such programming could generate a low-technology, semiskilled healthcare service economy as trained family caregivers provide support to other households in need, thereby both providing a recovery option for themselves and reduced economic devastation to the households which, by receiving the services, can stay in the workforce. Finally, the authors call for invigorated research on the economic impact of cancer on families and for the modeling, demonstration, and study of options for economic resilience, including IER programs. Cancer 2008;113(12 suppl):3548–55. © 2008 American Cancer Society.

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