Employment Situation of Parents of Long-Term Childhood Cancer Survivors

PLoS One. 2016 Mar 18;11(3):e0151966. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0151966. eCollection 2016.


Background: Taking care of children diagnosed with cancer affects parents' professional life. The impact in the long-term however, is not clear. We aimed to compare the employment situation of parents of long-term childhood cancer survivors with control parents of the general population, and to identify clinical and socio-demographic factors associated with parental employment.

Methods: As part of the Swiss Childhood Cancer Survivor Study, we sent a questionnaire to parents of survivors aged 5-15 years, who survived ≥5 years after diagnosis. Information on control parents of the general population came from the Swiss Health Survey (restricted to men and women with ≥1 child aged 5-15 years). Employment was categorized as not employed, part-time, and full-time employed. We used generalized ordered logistic regression to determine associations with clinical and socio-demographic factors. Clinical data was available from the Swiss Childhood Cancer Registry.

Results: We included 394 parent-couples of survivors and 3'341 control parents (1'731 mothers; 1'610 fathers). Mothers of survivors were more often not employed (29% versus 22%; ptrend = 0.007). However, no differences between mothers were found in multivariable analysis. Fathers of survivors were more often employed full-time (93% versus 87%; ptrend = 0.002), which remained significant in multivariable analysis. Among parents of survivors, mothers with tertiary education (OR = 2.40, CI:1.14-5.07) were more likely to be employed. Having a migration background (OR = 3.63, CI: 1.71-7.71) increased the likelihood of being full-time employed in mothers of survivors. Less likely to be employed were mothers of survivors diagnosed with lymphoma (OR = 0.31, CI:0.13-0.73) and >2 children (OR = 0.48, CI:0.30-0.75); and fathers of survivors who had had a relapse (OR = 0.13, CI:0.04-0.36).

Conclusion: Employment situation of parents of long-term survivors reflected the more traditional parenting roles. Specific support for parents with low education, additional children, and whose child had a more severe cancer disease could improve their long-term employment situation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Employment*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Neoplasms*
  • Parents*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Survivors*

Grants and funding

This study was supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation (www.snf.ch): Grant No. 100019_153268/1; Ambizione Grant to GM: PZ00P3 121682/1 and PZ00P3-141722. The Swiss Childhood Cancer Survivor Study was funded by the Swiss Cancer League (www.krebsliga.ch): KLS-2215-02-2008, KFS-02631-08-2010, KLS-02783-02-2011. The University of Lucerne research committee (FoKo) supports the open access publication (www.unilu.ch/en/research/university-of-lucerne-funding/research-committee/). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.