, Volume 7, Issue 2, pp 227-236
Date: 12 Feb 2013

Time away from work: employed husbands of women treated for breast cancer

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Abstract

Purpose

We estimated the effect of cancer and its treatment on employment and weekly hours worked for employed men whose wives were newly diagnosed with breast cancer.

Methods

We collected employment data on 373 married, insured, and employed men from 2007 to 2011. The outcomes were employment, any decrease in weekly hours worked, and change in weekly hours worked from pre-diagnosis to 2 and 9 months following treatment initiation relative to a non-cancer control group (N = 451 for the 2-month survey and N = 328 for the 9-month survey) extracted from the Current Population Survey. We also stratified the cancer sample by those undergoing chemotherapy and radiation treatment at the time of the interviews and repeated the analysis.

Results

Men whose wives were newly diagnosed with cancer were more likely to decrease weekly hours worked (p < 0.05) 2 months following treatment initiation than men in the control group. However, the change in weekly hours worked was not statistically significantly different from the change experienced by men in the control group. No differences between the two groups were observed at the 9-month interview.

Conclusions

Breast cancer treatment had a small, negative effect on work outcomes in employed husbands of affected women.

Implications for cancer survivors

While the results were generally favorable, more research is needed to understand the extent to which caregiving needs are met in an employed cancer population.