- People diagnosed with cancer report that support in the workplace is mainly provided by their colleagues
- 60% of workers ask for a comprehensive support plan for employees with cancer call for a business support plan for people diagnosed with cancer
- One in ten employees living with cancer have had to change the type of job they do, either within the same company or elsewhere
- More than 1,000 workers participated in the 1st edition of the Cancer & Work Barometer in Catalonia, published by the FECEC
47% of employees think that their company gives little or no support to employees with cancer. People living with cancer, in fact, reports that their colleagues are the main source of support in the workplace. Moreover, six out of ten workers call for a comprehensive support plan for employees with cancer, and 76% call on the company to increase their efforts to raise awareness of cancer in the workplace.
These are some of the conclusions of the 1st edition of the Cancer & Work Barometer in Catalonia, promoted by the Catalan Federation Against Cancer (FECEC). More than 1,000 people of working age took part in this study, which was conducted by the social science and research consulting agency GAPS.
For people living with cancer, work remains essential
61% of people living with cancer say that work, remains essential, giving their life meaning and motivation– 10 percent more than their healthy peers.
When it comes to returning to work after cancer, 88% say their job is the same as before the illness. However, side-effects of cancer and its treatment often mean that reasonable adjustments and accommodations are needed. These include, for example, flexible and reduced working hours, or combining in-person and remote work. It is important to highlight that, one in ten people have had to change the type of work they do, either within the company or elsewhere.
The Barometer also found that, once diagnosed, the vast majority of people of working age take sick leave at some point. Those who continue working, do so to maintain a sense of normalcy, boost their self-esteem, or because of financial issues.
12% of the workers interviewed for the Barometer have or have had cancer, and 57% work or have worked alongside someone living with cancer.
When it comes to cancer stigma in the workplace, more should be done
Although survival rates have greatly increased in recent years, the word cancer still has a strong, negative and tragic connotation for workers, being associated with concepts such as ‘disease’, ‘fear’ and ‘death’.
In fact, four in ten workers believe that people diagnosed with cancer do not have the same opportunities as others.
Although there is no obligation to do so, workers tell their employers that they have been diagnosed with cancer, with only 16% of those affected choosing not to communicate that they have the disease. The trend is increasingly towards more communication.
Those workers who do report it feel that they receive support and empathy from the company, as well as a certain sense of sadness from their coworkers. However, they report changes in how they are treated. 27% say that people become more distant or find it more difficult to talk to them.
1st edition of the Cancer & Work Barometer in Catalonia
In Catalonia, 1 in 2 men and 1 in 3 women will develop cancer in their lifetime. However, investment in research and new treatments have reduced mortality rates, significantly improving survival and turned cancer into a chronic disease. This paradigm shift means that many people of working age who are diagnosed with cancer will have an active working life after overcoming the disease.
This is why the FECEC has been promoting the programme #aftercancer since 2015, and is now working on the Cancer and Work Barometer in Catalonia, in which more than 1,000 people of working age have participated. The Barometer is a useful, informational tool that aimed at improving the work-life balance of people with cancer (and other chronic diseases) in the workplace.
The 1st edition of the Cancer and Work Barometer in Catalonia was administered by GAPS, Política i Societat (a social science and research consulting agency with more than 20 years of experience in conducting studies on opinion, attitudes and behaviour) and supported and promoted by the Catalan Federation Against Cancer (FECEC). The research was carried out using an opinion poll with online surveys of 1,002 working people aged between 16 and 65 living in Catalonia, distributed proportionally to the active population with cross quotas of sex-age and province. To guarantee that workers diagnosed with cancer were included, this group was over-represented, applying a filter to specifically target workers who meet this requirement. Thus, of the 1,002 surveys, 124 correspond to people who are or who have been diagnosed with cancer. Data collection took place between 31 January and 16 February 2022. The overall margin of error is ±3.16%, with a confidence interval of 95.5% and the case of greater uncertainty, where p=q=50 and k=2.
Access the Cancer and Work Barometer in Catalonia here
The launch event is sponsored by Laboratorios Janssen.