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Study Shows Children Whose Parents Have a Cancer History Have Increased Unmet Economic Needs in Food, Housing, and Transportation


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In a new large study led by researchers at the American Cancer Society, findings showed that parental cancer is associated with a greater likelihood of family-level food insecurity, financial worry about housing costs and other monthly bills, and transportation barriers to medical care for children in the United States. The study was presented by Zheng et al at the 2022 ASCO Annual Meeting (Abstract 12014).

About the Analysis

Researchers examined data from the 2013 to 2018 National Health Interview Survey. In this nationally representative data, the scientists identified 812 minor children aged 5 to 17 years (representing 860,000) living in families with a parental cancer history and 22,000 children without a parental cancer history (representing about 24.5 million children).

Generalized multivariable logistic regressions were used to compare family-level food insecurity; parents’ worry about the ability to pay monthly bills and housing costs; and delayed medical care for the child because of no transportation between minor children with and without a parental cancer history. All analyses were adjusted for child-, parent-, and family-related characteristics, including child’s age group, sex, and race/ethnicity; parent’s age group, sex, race/ethnicity, health insurance coverage, number of comorbid conditions, and obesity status; family’s structure (married/cohabiting parents vs single-parent families), highest educational attainment in the family, and family income as a percentage of the federal poverty level.

Results

The results showed about 3.4% of minor children were living in families with a parental cancer history. In adjusted analyses and compared to children whose parents did not report a history of cancer, children of cancer survivors were more likely to live in families that experience shortages in basic economic needs, such as food bought that did not last (25.8% vs 16.7%), inability to afford balanced meals (16.8% vs 13.3%), worry about paying monthly bills (44.7% vs 37.9%), and worry about housing costs (35.5% vs 30.7%). Moreover, children with a parental cancer history were more likely to experience delayed medical care due to lack of transportation than children without a parental cancer history (3.6% vs 1.6%).

These results suggest that the current support for children with a parental cancer history from health-care system may not be enough. Additional efforts from policymakers are needed to identify children with a parental cancer history and develop strategies to address their unmet economic needs.

Disclosure: For full disclosures of the study authors, visit coi.asco.org.

The content in this post has not been reviewed by the American Society of Clinical Oncology, Inc. (ASCO®) and does not necessarily reflect the ideas and opinions of ASCO®.
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