Purpose: To qualitatively explore Australian healthcare professionals’ perspectives on how to improve the care and management of cancer-related financial toxicity, including relevant practices, services, and unmet needs.
Methods: We invited healthcare professionals (HCP) who currently provide care to people with cancer within their role to complete an online survey, which was distributed via the networks of Australian clinical oncology professional associations/organisations. The survey was developed by the Clinical Oncology Society of Australia’s Financial Toxicity Working Group and contained 12 open-ended items which we analysed using descriptive content analysis and NVivo software.
Results: HCPs (n = 277) believed that identifying and addressing financial concerns within routine cancer care was important and most believed this to be the responsibility of all HCP involved in the patient’s care. However, financial toxicity was viewed as a “blind spot” within a medical model of healthcare, with a lack of services, resources, and training identified as barriers to care. Social workers reported assessment and advocacy were part of their role, but many reported lacking formal training and understanding of financial complexities/laws. HCPs reported positive attitudes towards transparent discussions of costs and actioning cost-reduction strategies within their control, but feelings of helplessness when they perceived no solution was available.
Conclusion: Identifying financial needs and providing transparent information about cancer-related costs was viewed as a cross-disciplinary responsibility, however, a lack of training and services limited the provision of support. Increased cancer-specific financial counselling and advocacy, via dedicated roles or developing HCPs’ skills, is urgently needed within the healthcare system.