Cancer survivors' received and needed social support from their work place and the occupational health services

Support Care Cancer. 2006 May;14(5):427-35. doi: 10.1007/s00520-005-0005-6. Epub 2006 Jan 10.


Goals of work: Even though a lot of studies have been conducted concerning cancer patients' social support, the importance of social support from the work life is unclear. We examined the amount of emotional and practical support that cancer survivors needed and had actually received from their coworkers, supervisors, and the occupational health personnel. We also examined whether disease-related or sociodemographic background variables were associated with needed or received support. Finally, we investigated whether there were differences between various sources in received or needed support.

Patients and methods: The data consisted of a total of 640 cancer survivors with breast cancer, lymphoma, testicular or prostate cancer, aged 25-57 years at the time of diagnosis. Information on social support was collected with a mailed questionnaire using an adapted version of the Structural-Functional Social Support Scale (SFSS).

Main results: The cancer survivors had received most support from their coworkers and they hoped for more support especially from the occupational health care personnel (39% of women and 29% of men). The men who had lymphoma, had received chemotherapy, or had low education level needed more support. The need for practical support from the occupational health personnel was fivefold between the chemotherapy-treated and those not treated. The women both received and needed more support than the men did.

Conclusions: There is a clear need for additional social support from work life among the cancer survivors especially from the occupational health personnel.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Breast Neoplasms / psychology
  • Female
  • Finland
  • Health Services Accessibility*
  • Humans
  • Lymphoma / psychology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Occupational Health Services*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / psychology
  • Social Support*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Survivors / psychology*
  • Testicular Neoplasms / psychology
  • Workplace / psychology*