Journal of Cancer Survivorship

, Volume 10, Issue 3, pp 564–572 | Cite as

Changes in importance of work and vocational satisfaction during the 2 years after breast cancer surgery and factors associated with this

  • Marie I. NilssonEmail author
  • Fredrik Saboonchi
  • Kristina Alexanderson
  • Mariann Olsson
  • Agneta Wennman-Larsen
  • Lena-Marie Petersson



The purpose of this study is to investigate how women, during the 2 years following breast cancer surgery, rate importance of work and vocational satisfaction, and baseline factors associated with rating over time.


A prospective cohort study of 692 women aged 20–63 included about 4 weeks after a first breast cancer surgery. Register data on treatment and data from six repeated questionnaires during a 2-year follow-up (at baseline, 4, 8, 12, 18, 24 months) were used in two-way mixed repeated analysis of variance and mixed repeated measures analysis of covariance.


The women rated importance of work (m = 3.74; sd 0.88) (maximum 5) and vocational satisfaction (m = 4.30; sd 1.38) (maximum 6) high during the 2 years. Women with planned chemotherapy rated lower vocational satisfaction and especially so at 4 months after inclusion (F 1, 498 = 8.20; p = 0.004). Higher age, better physical, and mental/social work ability at baseline influenced rating of vocational satisfaction. Supportive colleagues was an important covariate that significantly affected ratings of importance of work as well as vocational satisfaction, i.e., women with better support rated on average higher on these outcomes. The effect of chemotherapy disappeared after including the abovementioned baseline covariates.


Women diagnosed with breast cancer in the following 2 years rate importance of work and vocational satisfaction high, which are associated to lower work ability and social support.

Implications for cancer survivors

Work is a very important aspect in life also after a cancer diagnosis, which has to be acknowledged when discussing treatment and rehabilitation plans with women with breast cancer. Furthermore, workplace support needs to be assessed as this is an influential factor.


Breast cancer Work importance Vocational satisfaction Trajectory/change 



The study was funded by the Swedish Research Council, the Swedish Cancer Society, the Cancer Research Foundations of Radiumhemmet, and the Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Ethical approval

The study was approved by the Regional Ethical Review Board in Stockholm, Sweden. All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the regional research committee and with the 1967 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marie I. Nilsson
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  • Fredrik Saboonchi
    • 1
    • 4
  • Kristina Alexanderson
    • 1
  • Mariann Olsson
    • 2
  • Agneta Wennman-Larsen
    • 1
    • 5
  • Lena-Marie Petersson
    • 1
    • 6
  1. 1.Division of Insurance Medicine, Department of Clinical NeuroscienceKarolinska InstitutetStockholmSweden
  2. 2.Division of Social Work, Department of Neurobiology, Care Sciences and SocietyKarolinska InstitutetStockholmSweden
  3. 3.Department of Social WorkKarolinska University HospitalStockholmSweden
  4. 4.Red Cross University CollegeStockholmSweden
  5. 5.Sophiahemmet UniversityStockholmSweden
  6. 6.Division of Nursing, Department of Neurobiology, Care Sciences and SocietyKarolinska InstitutetStockholmSweden

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