Meernik C, Kirchhoff AC, Anderson C, Edwards TP, Deal AM, Baggett CD, Kushi LH, Chao CR, Nichols HB. Material and psychological financial hardship related to employment disruption among female adolescent and young adult cancer survivors. Cancer. 2020 Jan 1;127(1):137-48. doi: 10.1002/cncr.33190

BACKGROUND: The importance of addressing adverse financial effects of cancer among adolescents and young adults (AYAs) is paramount as survival improves. In the current study, the authors examined whether cancer-related employment disruption was associated with financial hardship among female AYA cancer survivors in North Carolina and California.

METHODS: AYA cancer survivors identified through the North Carolina Central Cancer Registry and the Kaiser Permanente Northern/Southern California tumor registries responded to an online survey. Disrupted employment was defined as reducing hours, taking temporary leave, or stopping work completely because of cancer. Financial hardship was defined as material conditions or psychological distress related to cancer. Descriptive statistics and chi-square tests were used to characterize the invited sample and survey respondents. Marginal structural binomial regression models were used to estimate prevalence differences (PDs) and 95% confidence intervals (95% CIs).

RESULTS: Among 1328 women employed at the time of their diagnosis, women were a median age of 34 years at the time of diagnosis and 7 years from diagnosis at the time of the survey and approximately 32% experienced employment disruption. A substantial percentage reported financial hardship related to material conditions (27%) or psychological distress (50%). In adjusted analyses, women with disrupted employment had a 17% higher burden of material conditions (95% CI, 10%-23%) and an 8% higher burden of psychological distress (95% CI, 1%-16%) compared with those without disruption.

CONCLUSIONS: Financial hardship related to employment disruption among female AYA cancer survivors can be substantial. Interventions to promote job maintenance and transition back to the workforce after treatment, as well as improved workplace accommodations and benefits, present an opportunity to improve cancer survivorship.

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