DISCO App: study protocol for a randomized controlled trial to test the effectiveness of a patient intervention to reduce the financial burden of cancer in a diverse patient population.

Financial toxicity, the material and psychological burden of the cost of treatment, affects 30-50% of people with cancer, even those with health insurance. The burden of treatment cost can affect treatment adherence and, ultimately, mortality. Financial toxicity is a health equity issue, disproportionately affecting patients who are racial/ethnic minorities, have lower incomes, and are < 65 years old. Patient education about treatment cost and patient-oncologist cost discussions are recommended as ways to address financial toxicity; however, research shows cost discussions occur infrequently (Altice et al. J Natl Cancer Inst 109:djw205, 2017; Schnipper et al. J Clin Oncol 34:2925-34, 2016; Zafar et al. Oncologist 18:381-90, 2013; American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network 2010). Our overall goal is to address the burden of financial toxicity and work toward health equity through a tailorable education and communication intervention, the DISCO App. The aim of this longitudinal randomized controlled trial is to test the effectiveness of the DISCO App on the outcomes in a population of economically and racially/ethnically diverse cancer patients from all age groups.

Patients diagnosed with breast, lung, colorectal, or prostate cancer at a NCI-designated comprehensive cancer center in Detroit, MI, will be randomized to one of three study arms: one usual care arm (arm 1) and two intervention arms (arms 2 and 3). All intervention patients (arms 2 and 3) will receive the DISCO App before the second interaction with their oncologist, and patients in arm 3 will receive an intervention booster. The DISCO App, presented on an iPad, includes an educational video about treatment costs, ways to manage them, and the importance of discussing them with oncologists. Patients enter socio-demographic information (e.g., employment, insurance status) and indicate their financial concerns. They then receive a tailored list of questions to consider asking their oncologist. All patients will have up to two interactions with their oncologist video recorded and complete measures at baseline, after the recorded interactions and at 1, 3, 6, and 12 months after the second interaction. Outcome measures will assess discussions of cost, communication quality, knowledge of treatment costs, self-efficacy for treatment cost management, referrals for support, short- and longer-term financial toxicity, and treatment adherence.

If effective, this intervention will improve awareness of and discussions of treatment cost and alleviate the burden of financial toxicity. It may be especially helpful to groups disproportionately affected by financial toxicity, helping to achieve health equity.

ClinicalTrials.gov NCT04766190. Registered on February 23, 2021.

Trials. 2021 Sep 17*** epublish ***

Lauren M Hamel, David W Dougherty, Seongho Kim, Elisabeth I Heath, Lorna Mabunda, Eyouab Tadesse, RaeAnn Hill, Susan Eggly

Wayne State University School of Medicine/Karmanos Cancer Institute, 4100 John R St., Detroit, MI, 48201, USA. ., Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, MA, USA., Wayne State University School of Medicine/Karmanos Cancer Institute, 4100 John R St., Detroit, MI, 48201, USA., Wayne State University School of Medicine, Detroit, MI, USA.

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