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Preparing patients with cancer who work and treatment responsiveness
  1. Caroline Kamau
  1. Correspondence to Dr Caroline Kamau, Department of Organizational Psychology, Birkbeck, University of London, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HX, UK; C.Kamau{at}


Background Many patients with life-limiting illnesses continue to work because of financial reasons and because work provides good psychosocial support. A lack of appropriate advice/support through patient education could, however, make having a job detrimental to well-being (eg, symptom worsening).

Aim This study investigated the frequency with which patients received information that empowers their understanding of their condition, treatment, side effects of treatment and the likely impact on occupational functioning.

Design A cross-sectional study.

Setting/participants An analysis of survey data from 3457 patients with cancer in employment.

Results Logistic regression showed that patients who received information about the impact of cancer on work life or education are 1.72 times more likely to have a positive treatment outcome. Patients who receive written information about the type of cancer are 1.99 times more likely to have a positive treatment outcome. Also, patients who receive written information before a cancer-related operation are 1.90 times more likely to have a positive treatment outcome. Information about the side effects of cancer treatment produces worse odds of a positive treatment outcome (0.65–1). A stepwise logistic regression analysing the effects irrespective of current employment status in 6710 patients showed that preparing them produces nearly twice better odds of cancer treatment responsiveness.

Conclusions Palliative care teams should consider ways of actively advising patients who work. Whereas the results showed evidence of good practice in cancer care, there is a need to ensure that all working patients with potentially life-limiting illnesses receive similar support.

  • Cancer
  • Education and training
  • Service evaluation
  • Supportive care
  • Patient counselling
  • Patient education

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  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Ethics approval Ethical approval for the survey was received by the Department of Health from the Ethics and Confidentiality Committee of the National Information Governance Board (Ref. ECC 3-04(d)/2011).

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.