Abstract

INTRODUCTION: The time incurred in seeking care for the treatment of side effects of chemotherapy (CT) or radiotherapy (RT) can result in lost productivity and resulting lost wages for cancer patients (pts) and their caregivers. The purpose of this study was to assess the amount of time spent by pts and caregivers to seek treatment for side effects of CT/RT and to examine productivity losses associated with such visits.

METHODS: A cross-sectional survey was conducted from April to May 2006 using a random sample of pts from a chronic illness panel of 550,233 pts. Inclusion criteria were being at least 18 years of age, diagnosed with cancer, and receiving CT and/or RT either currently or during the 12 months prior to participating in the study. Percentages and means were used to calculate descriptive statistics.

RESULTS: A total of 1,569 cancer pts were surveyed: 1,302 pts online and 267 pts by telephone. No significant differences were found between phone and online respondents. Of the pts currently receiving CT and/or RT (N=814), a total of 249 pts received treatment for side effects of CT/RT. The total time spent per visit to receive treatment for side-effects of CT/RT was approximately 5 hrs/visit including preparation time, travel time, and time spent at the clinic. Approximately one-half (54%) of the 249 patients currently receiving treatment for side effects of CT/RT were employed full-time (44%) or part-time (10%). Among employed patients currently receiving treatment for side effects of CT/RT, the mean number of work days missed as a result of visits for the treatment of CT/RT related side effects was 20 days per year. The primary reason for continuing to work during cancer treatment was financial need, reported by 59% of patients. Approximately 83% of all patients indicated that a caregiver generally accompanied them on their visits to the doctor’s office, clinic, or hospital to receive treatment for side effects of CT/RT. Seven out of ten caregivers (68%) were reported as being employed either full-time (62%) or part-time (6%).

CONCLUSIONS: Time related burden for patients receiving treatment for side effects of CT/RT and their caregivers is significant. Reduction in frequency of such visits is important from the standpoint of patients’ economic livelihood and can stand to benefit employers and society.

Table 1.

Time Spent on Healthcare Provider Visits for Treatment of Side Effects Related to Chemotherapy and/or Radiation (N=249)

Activity (per visit)Minutes Spent (mean)Standard DeviationMinutes Spent (median)
Preparing to go to the doctor’s office, clinic or hospital 81 127 55 
Travel to and from the doctor’s office, clinic, or hospital 102 188 58 
Waiting at the doctor’s office, clinic, or hospital to see the doctor or another healthcare professional 64 72 39 
Seeing the doctor or another healthcare professional 64 75 43 
Total 311 380 210 
Activity (per visit)Minutes Spent (mean)Standard DeviationMinutes Spent (median)
Preparing to go to the doctor’s office, clinic or hospital 81 127 55 
Travel to and from the doctor’s office, clinic, or hospital 102 188 58 
Waiting at the doctor’s office, clinic, or hospital to see the doctor or another healthcare professional 64 72 39 
Seeing the doctor or another healthcare professional 64 75 43 
Total 311 380 210 

Disclosures: William Hershfield: Amgen.; David Henry: Consulting: Orthobiotech, Amgen; Shawn Wade: Amgen; Mariana Servin: Amgen.; William Hershfield: Amgen.; David Henry: Orthobiotech and Amgen; Shawn Wade: Amgen; Mariana Servin: Amgen.; David Henry: Orthobiotech and Amgen.; David Henry: Orthobiotech and Amgen.

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