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The Effect of Cancer on Economic Well-Being of Survivors and Their Families

a PSC Small Fund Research Project

Investigator:   Anna Zajacova

There are over 10 million adults with history of cancer in the U.S. population. Improving the quality of life among the survivors and their families is a prominent public health issue and one of the top priorities of the National Cancer Institute. The survivors and their families face multiple challenges resulting from cancer and its treatment, including economic issues. While researchers, policy makers, and clinical practitioners understand that cancer is often financially devastating to the families of patients and survivors, the effects have never been adequately described. This project provides the first set of exact, causal, objective estimates of the changes in economic well-being that occur in families as a result of cancer. Using the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, a representative longitudinal survey of over 8,400 families, allows us to study changes in the survivors’ and spouses’ employment, taxable and transfer incomes, medical expenditures, and household wealth. The first aim of the project is to evaluate the reporting consistency and accuracy across the multiple reports over time. Using the results, the second aim is to use mixed-effects models to assess how the diagnosis affects the survivors’ and their spouses’ employment, income, medical expenditures, and wealth, as well as what family and cancer-specific characteristics moderate the economic impact of the disease.

Funding Period: 04/01/2009 to 06/30/2010

Country of Focus: USA

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