Burden of socio-legal concerns among vulnerable patients seeking cancer care services at an urban safety-net hospital: a cross-sectional survey
BACKGROUND This study investigated the interface of medical and legal systems by empirically identifying and evaluating the relation of medically related legal needs and patient quality of life and by assessing the degree to which these needs were addressed in standard patient care. METHODS Medically related legal needs were identified in a focus group setting. These needs were subsequently sorted and rated by a sample of 50 mixed-site cancer patients (22 men and 28 women; mean age, 52 years) and subjected to multidimensional scaling and cluster analyses. Participants also rated each need in terms of the extent to which it was met in their medical care and the impact on their quality of life. RESULTS Participants identified 30 medically related legal needs. Multivariate analyses identified 4 distinct medical-legal domains: Health Care Related, Estate Related, Financial, and Employment Related. Participants rated these domains as exerting a significant impact on quality of life. Patients reported that that these needs were not met by their current medical or supportive care. CONCLUSIONS The present study identified a range of medically related legal needs of cancer patients. Despite their importance to patient quality of life, these needs were not met by standard medical and supportive care. Findings underscored the need to integrate legal resources into cancer care as an important component of interventions that enhance patient quality of life.