Economic Impact of Terminal Illness and the Willingness to Change It

Natalia Emanuel, Melissa Andrea Simon, Michael Burt, Aneeja Joseph, Nirmala Sreekumar, Tapas Kundu, Vivek Khemka, Basudeb Biswas, M. R. Rajagopal, Linda Emanuel

Journal of Palliative Medicine

Abstract.

Objective: To gather pilot data on the economic impact of terminal illness on families and on the feasibility of training caregivers as a method of stemming illness-related poverty.

Design: Exploratory, descriptive study involving semistructured interviews with patient and caregiver dyads.

Setting: Pallium India Palliative Care Clinic in Trivandrum, Kerala, India.

Participants: Eleven patient–caregiver dyads (22 individual participants) visiting Pallium India in 2008.

Methods: Trained interviewers conducted face-to-face interviews consisting of 114 questions with the patient and caregiver separately. Questions covered topics of economic impact of illness on household, family, and individual. Questions included if the illness had so impacted families that they needed to sell assets or significantly reduce work and/or schooling.

Results: All families reported that patients were obliged to give up work as a result of illness. In seven families, the caregiver also had to change work habits. All respondents stated illness had forced them to sell assets. Ten households reported that their children were obliged to miss school due to the illness. All respondents indicated they would use trained caregivers to help with the care burden if available. Nine respondents thought that use of trained caregivers would have reduced or prevented some of the household's illness-related change. Nine caregivers said they would be interested in becoming a trained caregiver.

Conclusion: These data indicate that a definitive study would be feasible and would reveal how much assistance caregiver training could lend to household socio-economic resilience.

Published Nov. 4, 2010 2:09 PM