Work Transitions in Breast Cancer Survivors and Effects on Quality of Life

Rola Hamood, Hatem Hamood, Ilya Merhasin, Lital Keinan-Boker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose Work transitions among breast cancer survivors remain an underexplored area. We aimed to examine prevalence and determinants of changes in work status, and the effect of these changes on quality of life of breast cancer survivors. Methods A cross-sectional study of 410 female breast cancer survivors randomly drawn from a larger study sample pool (n = 2644), members of “Leumit” healthcare fund, who were diagnosed with primary nonmetastatic invasive breast cancer in the years 2002–2012. The study questionnaire included questions on work characteristics and health-related quality-of-life and was completed by all women contacted. Work transition was defined as a downgrade (from full-time to part-time), termination, or retirement, and was contrasted to no change in work status (retention of full-time or part-time). Work transition was assessed at two intervals: between breast cancer diagnosis and treatment, and between breast cancer diagnosis and time of the survey. Results A total of 206 breast cancer survivors (50%) were employed prior to their diagnosis, of whom 12% stopped working, and 79% downgraded to part-time during treatment. At the time of survey (mean 8 ± 3 years post-diagnosis), 33% of those employed prior to their diagnosis stopped working or retired, 48% downgraded to part-time, and 19% had no change in their work situation. Work transition between diagnosis and time of the survey was significantly associated with poorer quality-of-life. In multivariable analyses, work transition between diagnosis and time of the survey was positively associated with being immigrant compared to native-born Israeli (odds ratio (OR) 4.65; 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.91–11.37; P =.001), and inversely with education level of college or over compared to high school or less (OR 0.27; 95% CI 0.09–0.86; P =.026). Conclusions Breast cancer survivors with characteristics pointing at underprivileged social circumstances more often experienced changes in work status after surviving breast cancer, irrespective of diagnosis, comorbidity or treatment. Breast cancer patients with immigrant status and/or lower educational attainment need more support to be able to keep their job.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)336-349
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Occupational Rehabilitation
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2019


  • Breast cancer
  • Employment
  • Quality of life
  • Survivorship
  • Work

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Occupational Therapy
  • Rehabilitation


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