Supportive Care in Cancer

, Volume 21, Issue 9, pp 2583–2592 | Cite as

How much does it cost to care for survivors of colorectal cancer? Caregiver’s time, travel and out-of-pocket costs

  • Paul HanlyEmail author
  • Alan Ó Céilleachair
  • Mairead Skally
  • Eamonn O’Leary
  • Kanika Kapur
  • Patricia Fitzpatrick
  • Anthony Staines
  • Linda Sharp
Original Article



Cancer treatment is increasingly delivered in an outpatient setting. This may entail a considerable economic burden for family members and friends who support patients/survivors. We estimated financial and time costs associated with informal care for colorectal cancer.


Two hundred twenty-eight carers of colorectal cancer survivors diagnosed on October 2007–September 2009 were sent a questionnaire. Informal care costs included hospital- and domestic-based foregone caregiver time, travel expenses and out-of-pocket (OOP) costs during two phases: diagnosis and treatment and ongoing care (previous 30 days). Multiple regression was used to determine cost predictors.


One hundred fifty-four completed questionnaires were received (response rate = 68 %). In the diagnosis and treatment phase, weekly informal care costs per person were: hospital-based costs, incurred by 99 % of carers, mean = €393 (interquartile range (IQR), €131–€541); domestic-based time costs, incurred by 85 %, mean = €609 (IQR, €170–€976); and domestic-based OOP costs, incurred by 68 %, mean = €69 (IQR, €0–€110). Ongoing costs included domestic-based time costs incurred by 66 % (mean = €66; IQR, €0–€594) and domestic-based OOP costs incurred by 52 % (mean = €52; IQR, €0–€64). The approximate average first year informal care cost was €29,842, of which 85 % was time costs, 13 % OOP costs and 2 % travel costs. Significant cost predictors included carer age, disease stage, and survivor age.


Informal caregiving associated with colorectal cancer entails considerable time and OOP costs. This burden is largely unrecognised by policymakers, service providers and society in general. These types of studies may facilitate health decision-makers in better assessing the consequences of changes in cancer care organisation and delivery.


Colorectal cancer Informal care Cost-of-illness Out-of-pocket costs Regression 



This study was funded by the Health Research Board as part of a research programme examining the economic impact of cancer in Ireland (SA/2004/1). We are grateful to the carers and colorectal cancer survivors who took part in the surveys and the clinicians and nurses who supported and facilitated the fieldwork. We also thank the clerical support team at the National Cancer Registry who aided with data input.

Conflict of interest


Supplementary material

520_2013_1834_MOESM1_ESM.docx (26 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 26 kb)


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Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul Hanly
    • 1
    • 5
    Email author
  • Alan Ó Céilleachair
    • 1
  • Mairead Skally
    • 1
  • Eamonn O’Leary
    • 1
  • Kanika Kapur
    • 2
  • Patricia Fitzpatrick
    • 3
  • Anthony Staines
    • 4
  • Linda Sharp
    • 1
  1. 1.National Cancer Registry IrelandCorkIreland
  2. 2.School of EconomicsUniversity College DublinDublin 4Ireland
  3. 3.School of Nursing and Human SciencesDublin City UniversityDublin 9Ireland
  4. 4.School of Public Health, Physiotherapy & Population ScienceUniversity College DublinDublin 4Ireland
  5. 5.National College of IrelandDublin 1Ireland

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