Impact of childhood cancer on parental employment and sources of income: a Canadian pilot study

Pediatr Blood Cancer. 2008 Jul;51(1):93-8. doi: 10.1002/pbc.21448.


Background: Loss of income and out of pocket expenses related to childhood cancer care can account for over 25% of a family's total disposable income, adding to the stress of facing a life-threatening disease. The objective of this pilot study was to assess the impact of childhood cancer on employment and sources of income within families.

Procedure: A retrospective postal-administered questionnaire was used to collect information from parents of children diagnosed with cancer before 20 years of age between 1990 and 1996 in the province of British Columbia (n = 111).

Results: Among full or part-time employed parents, 64% of mothers and 16% of fathers left their job after their child's diagnosis. The large majority of parents who left their jobs were away for less than 1 year (65% of mothers; 78% of fathers) and nearly all were able to return to the same job if they chose to do so (80% of mothers; 89% of fathers). Parents with children <10 years of age at diagnosis and those with leukemia were most likely to take leave from their jobs. There was considerable change in sources of income between the time of diagnosis and survey with more families relying on employment insurance, social assistance or other financial support at diagnosis. Reliance on sources of income other than salary decreased with time since diagnosis.

Conclusions: It appears that the diagnosis of childhood cancer may cause an important but short-term impact on the employment and income sources of affected families.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Canada / epidemiology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cost of Illness
  • Employment / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Income / statistics & numerical data*
  • Male
  • Neoplasms / economics*
  • Parents*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Surveys and Questionnaires