Financial toxicity is recognized as an important adverse effect of cancer treatment that may decrease patients’ health-related quality of life (HRQOL). We aim to perform a systematic review and meta-analysis on studies investigating the association of HRQOL and financial toxicity measured with the Comprehensive Score for Financial Toxicity in patients with cancer and survivors.
A systematic literature search was completed in PubMed, Web of Science, Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature, and PsycInfo (last update April 2022). Methodological quality of included studies was assessed using the Appraisal Tool for Cross-Sectional Studies and the Critical Appraisal Skills Program Cohort Study Checklist. Where possible, study outcomes were pooled by random-effects meta-analysis.
Thirty-one studies were included with a combined sample of 13 481 patients and survivors with more than 25 cancer types from 9 countries. Nineteen different validated HRQOL instruments were used in these studies, with the Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy – General (n = 9), the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer Quality of Life Questionnaire Core 30 (n = 5), and EQ-5D (n = 5) being the most common. All but one included studies reported that higher financial toxicity was significantly associated with worse HRQOL. Ten HRQOL domains were correlated with financial toxicity, including physical health (r = 0.34-0.66), social health (r = 0.16-0.55), mental health (r = 0.21-0.54), and daily functioning (r = 0.23-0.52). The meta-analysis indicated a moderate correlation between financial toxicity and overall HRQOL as measured by the Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy instruments (r = 0.49, 95% confidence interval 0.44-0.54).
This is the first systematic review and meta-analysis to summarize the literature on the association of financial toxicity and HRQOL in patients with cancer and survivors. Our findings substantiate financial toxicity as a relevant outcome of cancer care that is associated with a decline of HRQOL.