BACKGROUND: The purpose of this study was to determine the factors affecting treatment abandonment of children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) enrolled in Z-Benefit Package and Medicine Access Program (MAP) in BRTTH from January 2012 to December 2016. Despite the implementation of these assistance programs, the survival rate of ALL is still slow, with high dropout rate and treatment refusal as compared to developed countries like Philippines is due to high rate of abandonment and treatment refusal, treatment-related deaths and poor access to medical facilities. Moreover, the study aimed to determine the prevalence of treatment abandonment among children with ALL.
METHODOLOGY: The study included pediatric ALL patients diagnosed from January 2012 - December 2016 who were aged less than 19 years old, who underwent treatment in BRTTH enrolled in Z-Benefit Package and MAP. The prevalence rate treatment abandonment was determined through records review. Then, the parents / caregivers f patients who abandoned treatment were interviewed during their follow-up at the Outpatient Department.
RESULTS: 29 out of 120 patients diagnosed with ALL abandoned their treatment, with a prevalence rate 24.1%. Their socio-demographic profiles that include age, sex, address, category of risk, mode of transportation, type of family members, family income, occupation of parents, father's highest educational attainment and type of assistance availed, were varying.
CONCLUSION: The patients' socio-demographic profile reflects the characteristics of the pediatric ALL patients who are predominantly ages 6-10 years, mostly males, low risk category, mostly recipients of Medicine Access Program (MAP), residing more than 5km from the hospital, using public transportation. The type of family is nuclear with more than 4 members, with family income less than 5,000 Php, fathers mostly employed with post-secondary level as their highest education attainment, whereas the mothers were mostly housewives.
Despite their availment of medical assistance programs, treatment abandonment was still high as compared to other countries. Based on the factors contributing to treatment abandonment, there is a need for comprehensible educational programs on management of side-effects of chemotherapeutic drugs, reinforcement of financial assistance programs (public or private sectors), social support groups for parents/ caregivers of pediatric ALL patients, halfway house and twinning programs.