Predictors of fatigue and work ability in cancer survivors

P van Muijen, S F A Duijts, K Bonefaas-Groenewoud, A J van der Beek, J R Anema

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: Workers diagnosed with cancer are at risk for job loss or work disability.

Aims: To determine predictors of fatigue and work ability at 36 months after diagnosis in a population of cancer survivors.

Methods: Individuals diagnosed with cancer and who applied for work disability benefit at 24 months of sick leave were surveyed at the time of application and again 12 months later. Fatigue was measured using the Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness-Fatigue scale questionnaire and work ability was measured using the work ability index. Linear regression analyses were applied to identify predictors.

Results: There were 336 participants. Participants who were divorced or widowed had more physical limitations, more depressive symptoms and were more fatigued at baseline, and who worked in health care demonstrated higher levels of fatigue. Lower fatigue was predicted by having received chemotherapy. A higher level of work ability was predicted by having received chemotherapy, better global health and better work ability at baseline. Lower work ability was predicted by being principal wage earner, insecurity about being free of disease, having more physical limitations and having greater wage loss.

Conclusions: Socio-demographic, health- and work-related factors were associated with fatigue and work ability in cancer survivors on long-term sick leave. As fatigue and poor work ability are important risk factors for work disability, addressing the identified predictive factors may assist in mitigation of work disability in cancer survivors.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberkqx165
Pages (from-to)703-711
Number of pages9
JournalOccupational Medicine
Issue number9
Early online date16 Nov 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2017

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