Journal of Cancer Survivorship

, Volume 12, Issue 6, pp 813–820 | Cite as

Patient and provider communication about employment following a cancer diagnosis

  • Janet S. de MoorEmail author
  • Kisha Coa
  • Erin E. Kent
  • Carmen Moten
  • Sarah Kobrin
  • Cheryl Altice
  • K. Robin Yabroff



Cancer treatment can precipitate functional limitations that restrict survivors’ ability to work. Yet, it is unclear whether healthcare providers discuss the potential for employment limitations with their patients. We assessed the frequency of patient-provider communication about employment, from the perspectives of survivors, and examined whether receiving a treatment summary was associated with employment communication.


Cancer survivors who were working at diagnosis were identified from the Health Information National Trends Survey-4, conducted in 2014 (n = 290). Separate multivariable regression analyses examined the associations between survivor characteristics and employment communication and receipt of a treatment summary and employment communication.


Among cancer survivors who were working at diagnosis, 62.69% (95% CI 54.42–70.95) reported discussing employment with any healthcare provider at any time since diagnosis. Younger cancer survivors and those more recently treated were more likely to ever have employment discussions. Survivors who received a treatment summary were also more likely to ever discuss employment with any healthcare provider than survivors who did not receive a treatment summary (OR = 3.47, 95% CI 1.02–11.84).


Approximately two thirds of cancer survivors who were working at diagnosis ever discussed employment with a healthcare provider. Thus, for a sizable portion of cancer survivors, the potential impact of cancer on employment is never discussed with any healthcare provider.

Implications for Cancer Survivors

Efforts are needed to proactively screen patients for cancer-related work limitations, empower patients to discuss employment concerns with their healthcare providers, and develop interventions that support survivors’ goals for working throughout treatment and recovery.


Cancer survivors Employment Work Treatment summary Healthcare provider Patient-provider communication 



This study did not receive outside funding.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

All authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest. There are no financial disclosures from any authors and this work had no specific funding. The findings and conclusions in this report are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position of the National Cancer Institute or the United States Department of Health and Human Services.

Research involving human participants and/or animals

This article does not contain any studies with human participants performed by any of the authors.

Informed consent

Not applicable because the article does not contain studies with human participants.


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Copyright information

© This is a U.S. Government work and not under copyright protection in the US; foreign copyright protection may apply 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Healthcare Assessment Research Branch, Healthcare Delivery Research Program, Division of Cancer Control and Population SciencesNational Cancer Institute/National Institutes of HealthRockvilleUSA
  2. 2.ICFRockvilleUSA
  3. 3.Center to Reduce Cancer Health DisparitiesNational Cancer InstituteBethesdaUSA

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