Supporting Patients Who Are Experiencing Financial Toxicity With Grace Smith, MD, PhD, MPH

At the recent Oncology Nursing Society (ONS) Congress in Anaheim, California, Dr. Grace Smith, Associate Professor at MD Anderson Cancer Center, gave a presentation about the financial toxicity associated with cancer care, particularly in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. In this interview with Oncology Data Advisor, Dr. Smith shares advice for nurses about how they can help prepare, identify, evaluate, and support patients who may experience financial toxicity.  

Oncology Data Advisor: Thank you for speaking with us, Dr. Smith. How can nurses help prepare patients and their families/caregivers for the possible financial toxicity they may encounter during treatment?

Grace Smith, MD, PhD, MPH: Nurses have a critical role in supporting patients and their families/caregivers experiencing financial toxicity. Through their care for and evaluation of patients, nurses gain unique insights into patients’ psychosocial stressors, including their financial stressors, and how these stressors interact with patients’ receipt and adherence to cancer treatment.

As a result, nurses serve a frontline role in identifying patients experiencing financial toxicity. They can help refer patients for direct assistance as soon as possible, and they can communicate with the rest of the care team—physicians, midlevel providers, social workers, and pharmacists—to help the team understand the patients’ needs more comprehensively.

Oncology Data Advisor: At what points between diagnosis and survivorship can nurses help evaluate their patients’ well-being, and what strategies can they employ to do so?

Dr. Smith: Since nurses routinely evaluate their patients’ physical, emotional, and social well-being during the entire trajectory from diagnosis to survivorship, integrating key questions about financial toxicity during this evaluation process is a strategic way to continually evaluate patients for financial toxicity.

Oncology Data Advisor: Thank you for sharing this advice with us.

About Grace Smith

Grace Smith, MD, PhD, MPH, is an Associate Professor in the Department of Gastrointestinal (GI) Radiation Oncology and the Department of Health Services Research at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas. Her research focuses on the financial toxicity experienced by patients with cancer both before and after treatment, including the development of measurements and interventions to address this issue. In addition, Dr. Smith conducts research regarding the comparative effectiveness of treatment patterns with the goal of improving cancer care delivery and quality.

For More Information

Smith G & Banegas M (2022). Financial toxicity’s burden on cancer care during the COVID-19 pandemic. Presented at: 47th Annual ONS Congress.

Transcript edited for clarity. Any views expressed above are the speakers’ own and do not necessarily reflect those of Oncology Data Advisor. 

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