Nearly all patients with cancer who used a legal and financial navigation program reported feeling “better prepared” and having “actionable next steps” after speaking with professionals from the program, according to a recent study.
A team of researchers from Triage Cancer presented results from the study at the Academy of Oncology Nurse & Patient Navigators 14th Annual Navigation & Survivorship Conference. Triage Cancer is a national nonprofit organization that “provides free education on the legal and practical issues that may impact individuals diagnosed with cancer and their caregivers” through events, materials, resources, and its legal and financial navigation program, the presenters said.
The legal and financial navigation program helps people with cancer, as well as their caregivers and health care professionals, as they navigate the “legal, financial, and practical issues that arise after a cancer diagnosis,” according to the researchers.
The presenters explained why it is so important to offer legal and financial navigation services for patients with cancer. “Cancer patients must manage treatment, while also trying to decipher health insurance coverage, navigate employment, pay their bills, and handle other daily life challenges. These are all contributing factors of financial toxicity,” the presenters said. “Health care teams are rarely trained on cancer-related legal issues impacting their patients and are often not equipped to answer complex questions on these topics. Even if someone has access to clinical navigation services, it is unlikely they are getting in-depth guidance on employment, disability insurance, or even health insurance options.”
According to the researchers, the program objectives include providing accurate information on legal and financial issues that arise after a cancer diagnosis, “thereby increasing access to quality care and minimizing financial toxicity.”
In 2022, the program served 1,289 callers, with the most common issues reported by callers being health insurance, disability insurance, employment, and financial assistance. Among those callers, 857 were diagnosed with cancer, 222 were caregivers, 159 were health care professionals, and 51 were in other categories. To date in 2023, the program has already served 1,487 people, according to researchers.
Those reached through the legal and financial navigation program reported feeling “better prepared about options” regarding health insurance, employment, finances, and other issues they contacted the program about. A follow-up survey for those who used the program found that 98% agreed or strongly agreed that Triage Cancer answered their questions, 94% agreed or strongly agreed that they had actionable next steps, and 94% agreed or strongly agreed that they were better prepared. Nearly all (97%) agreed or strongly agreed that they would use the program again, and 98% agreed or strongly agreed that their questions were answered.
Overall, the program provides a “unique solution to an otherwise unmet need, improving the financial health quality of life of individuals coping with cancer through individualized education on relevant topics,” the presenters said.
Jolicoeur N, Fawzy Doran J, Fawzy Bryant M, et al. Legal & financial navigation program provides individualized education to empower patients & support self advocacy. Presented at the Academy of Oncology Nurse & Patient Navigators 14th Annual Navigation & Survivorship Conference; November 15-19, 2023; San Antonio, Texas.