Cancer Survivors Fear Requesting Workplace Accommodations

Cancer survivors may face challenges to workplace accommodations, such as fear of requesting accommodations.
Cancer survivors may face challenges to workplace accommodations, such as fear of requesting accommodations.

Cancer survivors may face challenges to workplace accommodations, such as fear of requesting accommodations and difficulty with accommodating jobs, a new study published online ahead of print in the Journal of Cancer Survivorship has shown.1

Because the number of people surviving cancer and staying at or returning to work is increasing, researchers sought to investigate the types of workplace accommodations reported to have been provided to survivors of cancer, processed relevant to ensuring effective accommodations, and barriers to implementing workplace accommodations.

For the study, researchers conducted 40 semistructured interviews with 16 cancer survivors, 16 health/vocational service providers, and 8 employer representatives.

Results showed that 4 types of workplace accommodations were recommended for cancer survivors: gradual return to work plans and flexible scheduling, adjustments to work duties and performance expectations, retraining and workplace support, and modifications to the physical work environment and/or the support of adaptive aids.

Researchers found that barriers to workplace accommodations included survivors' fears about requesting accommodations, lack of clear and specific accommodations, difficulty accommodating jobs, and workplace challenges such as strained relationships and concerns regarding productivity.

“Accommodations need to be customized and clearly linked to survivors' specific job demands, work context, and available workplace supports. Survivors need to feel comfortable disclosing the need for accommodations,” the authors conclude.

Appropriate workplace accommodations can ultimately enhance cancer survivors' abilities to stay or return to work.

REFERENCE

1. Stergiou-Kita M, Pritlove C, van Eerd D, et al. The provision of workplace accommodations following cancer: survivor, provider, and employer perspectives [published online ahead of print October 31, 2015]. doi:10.1007/s11764-015-0492-5.

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