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Using a Financial Assistance Program as a Gateway to Support and Education for Underserved Breast Cancer Survivors

February 2014

Catherine Creme Henry, MA, and Arin Ahlum Hanson, MPH, CHES, Living Beyond Breast Cancer

Background

Living Beyond Breast Cancer’s Cis B. Golder Quality of Life Grant assists with the financial burden of breast cancer treatment. Since 2006, the grant has funded more than 1,100 women and helped pay bills such as rent/mortgage (53% of funds disbursed), utilities (34%) and childcare. More than $1 million has been distributed in the Philadelphia region. 90% of recipients earn less than 300% of the federal poverty line. 41% are African-American; 60% live in urban counties. A 2010 needs assessment indicated that recipients were not familiar with LBBC’s programs and had limited interactions with the organization. For many recipients, personal and financial crises made seeking information and support a low priority.

Methods

Interventions were developed to increase contact time with recipients and provide personalized invitations to other LBBC education and support programs. All applicants receive a peer support phone call from an LBBC Breast Cancer Helpline volunteer to share information about upcoming programs and refer to resources to meet their needs. Special invitations are sent to recipients offering registration fee waivers to LBBC conferences and inviting them to tailored programs for low-income families.

Results

65% of applicants were previously unaware of Living Beyond Breast Cancer and its support and education programs. All applicants receive 10-20 minutes of phone peer support and invitations to two local programs. Applicants receive several breast cancer publications on topics related to their concerns or experience. A nutrition-on-a-budget education series was piloted in 2013 to address recipients’ other wellness needs and provide meals. 14 women participated and reported that the program increased their knowledge of other nutrition resources available to them (70%), improved their confidence in cooking healthy meals (85%) and increased their likelihood of using other LBBC services (85%).

Conclusion

A financial assistance program provides a unique opportunity to engage underserved people diagnosed with breast cancer who may not otherwise seek support and education from an organization. The addition of peer support interventions helps assess and relieve other concerns and connects recipients to a support system that they can access throughout their experience. Although LBBC’s financial assistance is regionally restricted, its interventions can act as a model for other grant programs.

Exhibition

American Psychosocial Oncology Association, February 2014 (oral)

Oncology Nursing Society Annual Congress, May 2014 (poster)

Association of Oncology Social Workers Annual Conference, June 2013 (poster)

7th Biennial Cancer Survivorship Research Conference, June 2014 (poster)

5th Annual Academy Oncology Nurse Navigators Conference, September 2014 (poster)

The Science of Cancer Health Disparities in Racial/Ethnic Minorities and the Medically Underserved, November 2014 (poster)

Download a PDF of the poster.

Denver, CO  ·  September 13, 2014

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