Cancer survivors' experiences with conversations about work-related issues in the hospital setting

Psychooncology. 2021 Jan;30(1):27-34. doi: 10.1002/pon.5529. Epub 2020 Oct 19.


Objective: Early access to work-related psychosocial cancer care can contribute to return to work of cancer survivors. We aimed to explore: (a) the extent to which hospital healthcare professionals conduct conversations about work-related issues with cancer survivors, (b) whether cancer survivors experience these conversations as helpful, and (c) the possible financial implications for cancer survivors of (not) discussing their work early on.

Methods: The Dutch Federation of Cancer Patient Organizations developed and conducted a cross-sectional online survey, consisting of 27 items, among cancer survivors in the Netherlands.

Results: In total, 3500 survivors participated in this study (71% female; mean age (SD) 56 (11) years). Thirty-two percent reported to have had a conversation about work-related issues with a healthcare professional in the hospital. Fifty-four percent indicated that this conversation had been helpful to them. Conversations about work-related issues took place more frequently with male cancer survivors, those aged 55 years or below, those diagnosed with gynecological, prostate, breast, and hematological or lymphatic cancer, those diagnosed ≤2 years ago, or those who received their last treatment ≤2 years ago. There was no statistically significant association between the occurrence of conversations about work-related issues and experiencing the financial consequences of cancer and/or its treatment as burdensome.

Conclusions: Although conversations about work-related issues are generally experienced as helpful by cancer survivors, early access to work-related psychosocial cancer care in the hospital setting is not yet systematically offered.

Keywords: cancer; cancer care; communication; employability and cancer; information needs; oncology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Cancer Survivors / psychology*
  • Cancer Survivors / statistics & numerical data
  • Communication*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Personnel / psychology*
  • Hospitals
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / psychology
  • Neoplasms / rehabilitation*
  • Netherlands
  • Return to Work / psychology*