Background: Much of the global cancer burden is in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Along with the high incidence of cancer, most LMICs have unevenly distributed health care resources. This study is a qualitative exploration of the journey of patients accessing cancer care in India and their caregivers.
Methods: The study followed a cross-sectional qualitative design. Participants were recruited by stratified purposive sampling, and all common cancers in India as reported by the GLOBOCAN database were included in the study. Consenting patients and their caregivers were interviewed using in-depth interview techniques. The data was analysed using principles of qualitative content analysis.
Results: Cancer patients (n = 100) and their caregivers (n = 48) were interviewed for the study. The six themes that emerged were related to a) the journey of patients to access care, b) the psychological journey of patients, c) stigma of cancer patients, d) decision-making and adherence to treatment, e) economic costs of cancer care and its impact and f) modifiers to accessing cancer care.
Conclusions: Planning and policymaking in the future of cancer care delivery need to consider the views expressed by the cancer patients and their caregivers as regards to access, adherence and disruptions to cancer care in India. Future policies will hopefully address some of the difficulties faced by patients.