Presentation M O24

M O24 (Oral Presentation):
Perspectives of unemployed cancer survivors and insurance physicians on job loss and return to work

Presented by: Maartje Plonia van Egmond


van Egmond MP1, 2, Duijts SFA1, Loyen A1, Vermeulen SJ1, 2, van der Beek AJ1, Anema JR1,2

  1. VU University Medical Center/EMGO+ Institute, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  2. Dutch Research Center for Insurance Medicine, Amsterdam, The Netherlands



An increasing group of cancer survivors is living with long-term or permanent health problems, which may negatively affect work ability and employment status. Eventually, 62% of cancer survivors return to work (RTW). It is expected that RTW is even more challenging for unemployed persons compared to employed persons, as they lack support of employers and colleagues, and generally experience a worse health condition. It is important to study the experiences of job loss and RTW in unemployed cancer survivors, but also in insurance physicians (IPs), as they are involved in the RTW process of unemployed cancer survivors. Herewith, relevant barriers and facilitators for RTW can be identified, in order to prevent long-term work disability.


We conducted six focus group interviews: three with unemployed cancer survivors (N=17) and three with IPs (N=23). Survivors were invited to interviews at the VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam. For IPs, local peer review groups were used to host their interview. Topics included are, amongst others, experience of job loss, guidance by IP, barriers, needs and facilitators regarding RTW. Data was collected using an audio recording device and collection continued until saturation was reached. Data was transcribed verbatim and analysed according to the principles of thematic analysis.


Job loss was a traumatic experience for cancer survivors. Their experiences with the IP’s guidance during their unemployment ranged from supporting to obstructing. Survivors identified several obstacles in guidance by IPs that can be improved in daily practice. IPs also expressed the need for improvement in their guidance, e.g., opportunities for extended consultation with cancer survivors. Most survivors were motivated to RTW, but were challenged by both internal (personal and psychosocial) and external (environmental and societal) barriers and facilitators for RTW.


Job loss and RTW are challenging experiences for cancer survivors, who potentially face long-term work disability and adverse health effects. Results from this study may be used to develop RTW interventions specifically tailored to the needs of unemployed cancer survivors, which may prevent the risk of long-term work disability in this group.

Schedule Details

Monday September 29
13:45 - 15:15 Afternoon Concurrent Sessions (M O13 - M O24 and Seminar 2)
Session: Work disability in cancer survivors
Room A