Background: A systematic understanding of socio-economic inequalities in end-of-life (EOL) suffering among advanced cancer patients is required to inform efforts to reduce these inequalities as part of Universal Health Coverage goals.
Aims: To assess inequalities in multiple domains of EOL suffering among advanced cancer patients – physical, functional, psychological, social, and spiritual –, using two socio-economic status (SES) indicators, education and perceived economic status of the household.
Methods: We used cross-sectional data from surveys of stage IV cancer patients (n = 1378) from seven hospitals across five countries (China, Sri Lanka, India, Vietnam and Myanmar). We conducted separate multivariable linear regression models for each EOL suffering domain. We also tested interactions between the two SES indicators and between each SES indicator and patient age.
Results: Patients living in low economic status households /with fewer years of education reported greater suffering in several domains. We also found significant interaction effects between economic status of the household and years of education for all EOL suffering outcomes. Age significantly moderated the association between economic status of the household and social suffering and between years of education and psychological, social, and spiritual suffering (p < 0.05 for all).
Conclusion: Results highlight that SES inequalities in EOL suffering vary depending on the suffering domain, the SES indicator assessed, and by patient age. Greater palliative care resources for patients with low SES may help reduce these inequalities.
Background: The Universal Health Coverage goals call for access to affordable palliative care to reduce inequities in “total pain” and suffering. To achieve this, a patient-centred understanding of these inequities is required.
Aim: To assess association of total pain and suffering (i.e. physical, psychological, social, and spiritual health outcomes) and perceived health care quality with financial difficulties among stage IV solid malignancy patients.
Design: Using baseline data from the COMPASS cohort study, we assessed total pain and suffering including physical (physical and functional well-being, pain, symptom burden), psychological (anxiety, depression, emotional well-being), social (social well-being), and spiritual (spiritual well-being, hope) outcomes and perceived health care quality (physician communication, nursing care, and coordination/responsiveness). Financial difficulties were scored by assessing patient perception of the extent to which their resources were meeting expenses for their treatments, daily living, and other obligations. We used multivariable linear/logistic regression to test association between financial difficulties and each patient-reported outcome.
Setting/participants: Six hundred stage IV solid malignancy patients in Singapore.
Results: Thirty-five percent reported difficulty in meeting expenses. A higher financial difficulties score was associated with worse physical, psychological, social, spiritual outcomes, and lower perceived quality of health care coordination and responsiveness (i.e. greater total pain and suffering) (all p < 0.05). These associations persisted after adjustment for socio-economic indicators.
Conclusion: Results identify advanced cancer patients with financial difficulties to be a vulnerable group with greater reported total pain and suffering. A holistic patient-centred approach to care at end-of-life may help meet goals for Universal Health Coverage.