Background: Job loss after a cancer diagnosis can lead to long-term financial toxicity and its attendant adverse clinical consequences, including decreased treatment adherence. Among women undergoing (neo)adjuvant chemotherapy for breast cancer, access to work accommodations (e.g., sick leave) is associated with higher job retention after treatment completion. However, low-income and/or minority women are less likely to have access to work accommodations and, therefore, are at higher risk of job loss. Given the time and transportation barriers that low-income working patients commonly face, it is crucial to develop an intervention that is convenient and easy to use.
Methods: We designed an intervention to promote job retention during and after (neo)adjuvant chemotherapy for breast cancer by improving access to relevant accommodations. Talking to Employers And Medical staff about Work (TEAMWork) is an English/Spanish mobile application (app) that provides (1) suggestions for work accommodations tailored to specific job demands, (2) coaching/strategies for negotiating with an employer, (3) advice for symptom self-management, and (4) tools to improve communication with the medical oncology team. This study is a randomized controlled trial to evaluate the app as a job-retention tool compared to a control condition that provides the app content in an informational paper booklet. The primary outcome of the study is work status after treatment completion. Secondary outcomes include work status 1 and 2 years later, participant self-efficacy to ask an employer for accommodations, receipt of workplace accommodations during and following adjuvant therapy, patient self-efficacy to communicate with the oncology provider, self-reported symptom burden during and following adjuvant therapy, and cancer treatment adherence.
Discussion: This study will assess the use of mobile technology to improve vulnerable breast cancer patients' ability to communicate with their employers and oncology providers, work during treatment and retain their jobs in the long term, thereby diminishing the potential consequences of job loss, including decreased treatment adherence, debt, and bankruptcy.
Trial registration: ClincalTrials.gov NCT03572374 . Registered on 08 June 2018.
Keywords: Breast cancer; Cancer survivorship; Disparities; Employment; Financial toxicity; Income; Minority; Mobile application.
© 2022. The Author(s).