Work in cancer survivors: a model for practice and research

As with other illnesses, several variables can impact the transition back to the workplace, long-term work productivity, or job retention among cancer survivors. We developed a model related to work and cancer based in part on the general area of work disability and the specific literature on cancer survivors and work. Methods: A systematic search of the literature on work and cancer was conducted to determine whether an evidence base existed to support the proposed model. Results : Forty-five papers met the review criteria. The percentage of studies that addressed modifiable categories included in the proposed model was: health and well-being (20%), symptoms (16%), function (24%), work demands (9%), work environment (18%), and policy, procedures, and economic factors (16%). Return to work was the most common work outcome studied although problems with productivity and retention are reported in the general cancer and work literature. Wide variation in definition of cancer survivor was reported and breast cancer survivors were studied most often. Each of the categories in the model has some empirical support. Discussion: The model considers the health, functional status in relation to demands, work environment, and policy, procedures, and financial factors. The model allows the clinician and survivor to consider factors that can be addressed by the health care provider, survivor, and workplace. Implications for Cancer Survivors. This model provides a framework to aid in conceptualizing problems related to work.

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