There is insufficient knowledge regarding the economic impact of childhood cancer on parents. The objectives of the current study were to investigate the short-term and long-term effects of childhood cancer on mothers' and fathers' income from employment and employment status.METHODS:
The study sample consisted of the parents of children diagnosed with cancer from 2004 to 2009 in Sweden (3626 parents of 1899 children). Annual register data concerning income from employment and employment status (employed/not employed) were retrieved from the Longitudinal Integration Database for Health Insurance and Labor Market Studies. Using generalized linear models, the mean income from employment and employment status were compared with a matched control cohort of 34,874 parents sampled from the general population.RESULTS:
Parents' income was found to decrease significantly after the child's cancer diagnosis. The effect was most pronounced for mothers, whose income was reduced for 6 years after diagnosis, whereas fathers' income was similar to that of control fathers 3 years after the diagnosis. Mothers were more likely to stop working after a child's cancer diagnosis compared with controls. No association was found for fathers' employment status. Younger age of parents; lower level of education; and, among mothers, being born outside of Sweden were found to be associated with more adverse effects on income.CONCLUSIONS:
Parents' income from employment and employment status appear to be adversely affected by having a child with cancer. Socioeconomic consequences are not distributed equally: the income of fathers appears to catch up after a few years, whereas mothers tend to be disadvantaged in their professional life for several years after a child's cancer diagnosis.
Parents' income from employment and employment status are adversely affected by having a child with cancer, but the effects are not distributed equally. In particular, more support and financial assistance may be advocated for young parents, mothers with a lower educational level, and mothers who were born in another country.