Journal of Cancer Survivorship

, Volume 12, Issue 2, pp 246–255 | Cite as

Relationship between self-reported cognitive function and work-related outcomes in breast cancer survivors

  • Diane Von Ah
  • Susan Storey
  • Adele Crouch



This study examined the relationship between perceived cognitive function including perceived cognitive impairment (PCI) and perceived cognitive ability (PCA) and work ability, work performance, work productivity, and intention to leave employment in breast cancer survivors (BCS).


A cross-sectional study design was used in the study. Employed BCS completed questionnaires assessing PCI and PCA (Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy–Cognitive-3); emotional work demands (Self-Focused Emotional Labor Scale); and work ability index (WAI), work performance, work productivity (Work Limitations Questionnaire (WLQ), and intention to turnover. Separate regression models examined the relationship between PCI and PCA and work-related outcomes.


Participants were 68 employed female BCS who were on average 52 (SD = 8.6) years old and 5 (SD = 3.8) years post-treatment with majority working full time. PCI was associated with poorer work ability (B = − 0.658), work performance (time-B = 0.647, physical-B = − 0.414, and mental-B = 0.689), and work productivity (B = 0.731), but not intent to leave work. PCA was related to higher levels of work ability (B = 0.472), work performance (time-B = − 0.462 and mental-B = − 0.453), and work productivity (β = − 0.494), but not physical demands or intent to turnover.


Employed BCS with negative perceptions of cognitive function reported poorer work outcomes with the exception of the intent to leave employment. In contrast, positive views of one’s cognitive abilities were related to improved ratings of work outcomes again with the exception of intent to leave employment.

Implications for Cancer Survivors

Healthcare providers need to assess and address perceived cognitive functioning to promote work-related outcomes in BCS.


Breast cancer survivor Cognitive impairment Work ability Work productivity Work performance 



This study was funded by grants from the Walther Cancer Institute (Grant #0155.01, PI: Von Ah) and Indiana University Melvin and Bren Cancer Center (PI: Von Ah).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Community and Health SystemsIndiana University School of NursingIndianapolisUSA

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