Employment status and quality of life in recently diagnosed breast cancer survivors

Allegra W. Timperi, Isaac Joshua Ergas, David H. Rehkopf, Janise M. Roh, Marilyn L. Kwan, Lawrence H. Kushi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Background Breast cancer survivors are less likely to be employed than similar healthy women, yet effects of employment on the well being of survivors are largely unknown. In a prospective cohort study of 2013 women diagnosed from 2006 to 2011 with invasive breast cancer in Kaiser Permanente Northern California, we describe associations between hours worked per week and change in employment with quality of life (QOL) from diagnosis through active treatment. Methods Participants completed information on employment status and QOL approximately 2 and 8 months post-diagnosis. QOL was assessed by the Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy - Breast Cancer. Multivariable linear regression models were adjusted for potential confounders including demographic, diagnostic, and medical care factors to examine associations between employment and QOL. Results At baseline, overall well being was higher for women who worked at least some hours per week compared with women who were not working. Women working 1-19 h/week at baseline also had higher functional well being compared with women who were not working. There was a significant, positive association between hours worked per week and physical and social well being. At the 6-month follow-up, women working at least 20 h/week had higher physical and functional well being than those who were not working. Lower scores for physical and functional well being were observed among women who stopped working during the 6-month follow-up period. Conclusions Continuing to work after a breast cancer diagnosis may be beneficial to multiple areas of QOL. Strategies to help women continue working through treatment should be explored.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1411-1420
Number of pages10
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • breast cancer
  • cancer
  • employment
  • FACT-B
  • oncology
  • quality of life

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology


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