Cancer, comorbidity and workplace discrimination: The US experience

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Cancer survivors with comorbidities have more work-related challenges than cancer survivors without these other health problems. This study evaluated how these cancer survivors with comorbidities are faring under a newly revised workplace discrimination policy, which better accounts for the episodic nature of chronic illnesses. The sample included 18-64 year olds with a history of cancer who filed allegations of workplace discrimination in 2009-2011 (N = 1.291) in the US. Multivariable logistic regressions were used. Cancer survivors with comorbidities were more likely to file discrimination claims related to the terms of their employment (OR = 1.37, 95% CI = 1.04-1.80) than cancer survivors without comorbidities. Terms of employment-related claims were more likely to be ruled in favour of cancer survivors (versus employers), regardless of comorbidity status (OR = 1.44, 95% CI = 1.06-1.96). Despite this policy reform, alleged discrimination related to terms of employment existed at higher rates in cancer survivors with concurrent health problems. If employment is a goal in this high-risk group, replication of findings in other countries, studies on potential mechanisms and development of innovative interventions in these higher risk cases are warranted. Efforts should be made to mitigate the impact of these comorbid health problems on work-related function.

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