Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Exploring the Impact of Medical Crowdfunding for Chronic Illnesses

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An article reviews the research on medical crowdfunding (MCF) for people diagnosed with serious chronic illness, focusing on study designs and methods, research practices, and study foci relating to stress, stress appraisals, and coping processes.

Persons diagnosed with serious chronic illnesses and their caretakers often face multiple types of financial costs that strain their income and result in financial distress. To mitigate these costs, many turn to medical crowdfunding.

The review was conducted according to the PRISMA (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses) and PRISMA-ScR (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses extension for Scoping Reviews) guidelines. Eligible studies were conducted in high-income countries designated by the World Bank. The studies focused on beneficiaries diagnosed with serious chronic illness and summarized findings concerning key concepts derived from an established stress, appraisal, and coping framework and a conceptual model of financial toxicity in pediatric oncology.

The study identified 26 studies suitable for inclusion in the review. A major finding was the lack of integration of qualitative and quantitative approaches, as well as inconsistent reporting of the responsible conduct of research practices. The included studies focused on financial stressors that contributed to financial burdens, such as out-of-pocket payments of medical bills, basic living expenses, medical travel expenses, and lost income due to illness-related work disruptions.

Medical Crowdfunding

Exploring Methodological Gaps in Medical Crowdfunding Research

Few studies addressed stress appraisals as threatening or the adequacy of available financial resources. Appraisals related to the global financial struggle during the COVID-19 pandemic or the capacity of social network members to donate funds were mentioned. The consequences of medical crowdfunding included receipt of three forms of social support (tangible, informational, and emotional), privacy loss, embarrassment, and the propagation of scientifically unsupported information. Most studies found that friends and family tended to manage MCF campaigns and focused primarily on monetary outcomes.

The identified methodological gaps underscore the need for more robust and reproducible approaches to using the abundant data available on public MCF platforms. The integration of quantitative and qualitative methods will allow for nuanced explorations of the MCF experience. A more consistent elaboration of strategies to promote the responsible conduct of research is needed to minimize risk to vulnerable populations and address concerns about the loss of privacy. Finally, an examination of the unanticipated consequences of MCF is crucial for the development of future interventions to optimize existing supports while providing needed support, financial and non-financial, that are lacking.


Original Article DOI: 10.2196/44530

Original title: The Use of Medical Crowdfunding to Mitigate the Personal Costs of Serious Chronic Illness: Scoping Review

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