Cognitive Limitations at Work Among Employed Breast Cancer Survivors in China

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This study aimed to determine whether levels of distress (anxiety and depression) and cognitive symptoms at work are related to work productivity and quality of life (QOL) in Chinese breast cancer survivors (BCS), compared to a group of Chinese women without cancer but with different musculoskeletal pain related to work.


This study used a cross-sectional study design.


Working BCS were recruited in a tumor hospital’s outpatient department, and women with no history of cancer (noncancer comparison [NCC] group) were recruited from a rehabilitation center.


A total of 412 participants were included. Multiple regression analyses indicated that higher anxiety was associated with work limitations (B = .005, p = .014) and QOL (B = 2.417, p = .004) in the BCS group only. Cognitive limitations at work were associated with work limitations (B = .002, p = .001) and QOL (B = 1.022, p = .003) in the BCS group only. Depressive symptoms (B = .028, p = .017) were significantly associated with work limitations in the NCC group.


Breast cancer survivors reported higher levels of cognitive limitations at work and anxiety, lower levels of work productivity, and QOL.

Clinical Relevance

When remaining at work is a viable option for the cancer survivor with cognitive limitations at work, the rehabilitation nurse should consider approaches to best accommodate the specific cognitive limitations and work tasks, as well as help the patient manage associated anxiety when present.

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