Background: As medical costs continue to rise, financial distress due to these costs has led to poorer health outcomes and patient cost-coping behavior. Here, we test the null hypothesis that financial distress is not associated with delay of seeking care for hand conditions. Methods: Eighty-seven new patients presenting to the hand clinic for nontraumatic conditions completed our study. Patients completed validated instruments for measuring financial distress, pain catastrophizing, and pain. Questions regarding delay of care were included. The primary outcome was self-reported delay of the current hand clinic visit. Results: Patients who experience high financial distress differed significantly from those who experience low financial distress with respect to age, race, annual household income, and employment status. Those experiencing high financial distress were more likely to report having delayed their visit to the hand clinic (57% vs 30%), higher pain catastrophizing scores (17.7 vs 7.6), and higher average pain in the preceding week (4.5 vs 2.3). After adjusting for age, sex, and pain, high financial distress (adjusted odds ratio [OR] = 4.90) and pain catastrophizing score (adjusted OR = 0.96) were found to be independent predictors of delay. Financial distress was highly associated with annual household income in a multivariable linear regression model. Conclusions: Patients with nontraumatic hand conditions who experience higher financial distress are more likely to delay their visit to the hand clinic. Within health care systems, identification of patients with high financial distress and targeted interventions (eg, social or financial services) may help prevent unnecessary delays in care.
View details for DOI 10.1177/1558944719866889
View details for PubMedID 31409138