Work ability of survivors of breast, prostate, and testicular cancer in Nordic countries: a NOCWO study
Cancer can cause adverse effects on survivors’ work ability. We compared the self-assessed work ability of breast, testicular, and prostate cancer survivors to that of people without cancer. We also investigated the association of disease-related and socio-demographic factors and job-related resources (organizational climate, social support, and avoidance behavior) with work ability and looked at whether these associations were different for the survivors and reference subjects.
Working aged cancer patients diagnosed between 1997 and 2002 were identified from hospital or cancer registries in Denmark, Finland, Iceland, and Norway (Nordic Study on Cancer and Work). A cancer-free reference group was selected from population registries. We collected information on work ability and other factors from 1,490 employed survivors and 2,796 reference subjects via a questionnaire.
The adjusted mean value of work ability was slightly lower among the breast and prostate cancer survivors compared to the cancer-free population. Co-morbidity, chemotherapy, low workplace support, and low organizational commitment were associated with reduced work ability. Avoidance behavior from supervisors or colleagues was only related to work ability among the cancer survivors.
Conclusions and implications
More attention should be paid to assisting cancer survivors in work life, particularly those who have chronic diseases or have undergone chemotherapy. Although most factors affecting the work ability of the survivors and reference subjects were the same, survivors’ work ability seemed to be particularly sensitive to avoidance behavior. The results suggest that there is a need to improve communication at the workplace and develop supportive leadership practices in order to avoid isolating behavior towards cancer survivors.
KeywordsCancer Disability Job resources Social support Survivorship Work ability
- 11.Ilmarinen J, Gould R, Järvikoski A, Järvisalo J. Diversity of work ability. In: Gold R, Ilmarinen J, Järvisalo J, Koskinen E, editors. Dimensions of work ability. Helsinki: Finnish Centre for Pensions; 2008. p. 13–24.Google Scholar
- 12.Gold R, Ilmarinen J, Järvisalo J, Koskinen E. Dimensions of work ability. Results of the Health 2000 Survey. Helsinki: Finnish Centre for Pensions; 2008.Google Scholar
- 14.Gunnarsdottir HK, Rafnsdottir GL, Bernburg JG, Lindbohm M-L. Employment participation and work experience of female breast cancer and lymphoma survicors from the Nordic Study of Cancer and Work (NOCWO). In: Torres VN, editor. Lung cancer in women. New York: Nova Science; 2007. p. 335–57.Google Scholar
- 15.Gudbergsson S.B. Life after cancer: work experiences, living conditions and impact of cancer in tumour-free cancer survivors. A dissertation, University of Oslo. Oslo: AiT-e-dit AS, 2007.Google Scholar
- 16.Cull A, Sprangers M, Bjordal K, Aaronson N, West K, Bottomley A on behalf of the EORTC Quality of Life Group. EORTC quality of life group translation procedure. Brussels: EORTC; 2002.Google Scholar
- 17.Tuomi K, Ilmarinen J, Jahkola A, Katajarinne L, Tulkki A. Work ability index. Helsinki: Finnish Institute of Occupational Health; 1998.Google Scholar
- 18.Ilmarinen J, Tuomi K. Past, present and future of work ability. People and Work Research Reports. 2004;65:1–25.Google Scholar
- 20.Elo A-L, Dallner M, Gamberale L, Hottinen V, Knardahl S, Lindström K, et al. User’s guide for the QPSNordic: general Nordic questionnaire for psychological and social factors at work. Copenhagen: Nordic Council of Ministers; 2001.Google Scholar
- 22.SAS Institute Inc. SAS/STAT® 9.1 user’s guide. Cary: SAS Institute; 2004.Google Scholar
- 35.Seitsamo J, Tuomi K, Ilmarinen J. Diversity of work ability and the work ability index. In: Gold R, Ilmarinen J, Järvisalo J, Koskinen E, editors. Dimensions of work ability. Helsinki: Finnish Centre for Pensions; 2008. p. 109–21.Google Scholar