Factors reported to influence the return to work of cancer survivors: a literature review

Psychooncology. 2002 Mar-Apr;11(2):124-31. doi: 10.1002/pon.585.


An overview is provided of research into the return to work of cancer survivors, examining both the rate of return to work and factors impacting this return. A series of literature searches was conducted on MEDLINE and PSYCLIT databases for the years 1985-1999. Studies had to focus on the patient's perspective and had to include either the percentage of return to work or factors associated with return to work. Case studies and studies of cancer as an occupational disease were excluded. The search identified 14 studies. The mean rate of return to work was 62% (range 30-93%). The following factors were negatively associated with return to work: a non-supportive work environment, manual labour, and having head and neck cancer. Sociodemographic characteristics were not associated with return to work. For increasing age, associations were mixed. The increased survival rate of cancer patients warrants attention to the problems survivors may encounter upon their return to work. More systematic research is needed to establish more clearly the relative importance of factors associated with return to work of cancer survivors, which, in turn, would contribute to an increase in the labour-participation of cancer survivors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / psychology
  • Neoplasms / rehabilitation*
  • Rehabilitation, Vocational / psychology*
  • Survivors / psychology*