Working, Low Income, and Cancer Caregiving: Financial and Mental Health Impacts.

TitleWorking, Low Income, and Cancer Caregiving: Financial and Mental Health Impacts.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2023
AuthorsBradley, CJ, Kitchen, S, Owsley, KM
JournalJ Clin Oncol
ISSN Number1527-7755
KeywordsAged, Caregivers, Employment, Humans, Income, Insurance, Health, Mental Health, Neoplasms

PURPOSE: Approximately 6 million people provide caregiving to people diagnosed with cancer. Many must remain employed to support their household and to have access to health insurance. It is unknown if caregiving for a spouse diagnosed with cancer is associated with greater financial and mental stress relative to providing care for a spouse with different conditions.

METHODS: Health and Retirement Study (2002-2020) data were used to compare employed caregivers, younger than age 65 years, caring for a spouse diagnosed with cancer (n = 103) and a matched control group caring for a spouse with other conditions (n = 515). We used logistic regression to examine a decrease in household income, increase in household debt, stopping work, and a new report of a mental health condition over a 4-year period, adjusting for socioeconomic and demographic characteristics, and health insurance status. Subanalyses stratified estimations by median household income.

RESULTS: Around a third of cancer caregivers reported they stopped working (35%) and had an increase in household debt (30%). Cancer caregivers in households below the median household income were more likely to report decreased income (13.4 percentage points [pp]; < .10), increased household debt (14.5 pp; < .10), and stopping work (18.8 pp; < .05) than similar noncancer caregivers. Mixed results were found for a change in mental health domains. The results were robust to multiple sensitivity analyses.

CONCLUSION: Cancer caregivers from low-income households were more likely to increase debt and incur work loss compared with noncancer caregivers in similar households. Policies such as paid sick leave and family leave are needed for this strained and important population who have financial and employment responsibilities in addition to caregiving.

Citation Key13252
PubMed ID37043714