Hospital parking fees may affect health outcomes in cancer patients

Credit: John Matychuk / Unsplash.

Transportation to and from cancer centers for outpatient cancer treatments has been identified as one of the two most impactful out-of-pocket costs that cancer patients and their families incur, along with food costs.

In a study from the University of Alberta, scientists found that hospital parking fees may contribute to suboptimal health outcomes for cancer patients.

Clinicians often under-address and fail to recognize financial toxicity, which is an increasingly important aspect of cancer care.

It refers to the financial stress and strain patients and caregivers experience because of out-of-pocket expenses incurred during cancer treatment.

It has been found that patients alter their decisions regarding the treatment options available to them if there is a financial consequence.

In the study, the team analyzed the public parking fees for 115 cancer centers in western Canada.

They found that the daily cost of parking was strongly linked to cancer center address transit score and city cost-of-living across western Canada.

Results from the study indicated that cities with a higher cost of living have less free parking, which further aggravates the economic burden on patients.

One way to ameliorate this loss of income would be to provide patients who will receive protracted chemotherapy or radiation therapy treatment regimens with subsidized parking or access to transportation vouchers.

Another way to mitigate the impact of parking costs on patients would be to implement validated financial toxicity screening scales administered by medical professionals such as radiation therapists, nurses, physicians, and social workers prior to patients starting their treatment courses.

Through early and accurate screening and identification of individuals at high risk of experiencing financial toxicity, patients can then benefit from waived or subsidized parking.

The team says the findings of our study should inform stakeholders and decision-makers to consider the impact of parking-related financial toxicity on vulnerable cancer patients.

If you care about cancer, please read studies that a low-carb diet could increase overall cancer risk, and vitamin D supplements strongly reduce cancer death.

For more information about nutrition, please see recent studies about how drinking milk affects the risks of heart disease and cancer, and results showing Aspirin could increase survival in cancer.

The study was conducted by Mustafa Al Balushi et al and published in the Journal of Medical Imaging and Radiation Sciences.

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