Supporting People with Cancer Return to Work

Supporting People with Cancer Return to Work

The Flinders Centre for Innovation in Cancer is leading a research project about supporting people with cancer return to work, with a focus on geographically and socioeconomically disadvantaged communities. Cancer survivors are more likely to be unemployed than healthy controls and the risk of unemployment increases with lower socioeconomic status. According to the Atlas of Cancer in South Australia, areas of economic disadvantage often correlate with areas of poor cancer outcomes in metropolitan as well as regional South Australia. Maintenance of employment has substantial benefits to an individual in enhancing a sense of personal worth and identity as well as providing financial security.

This research project aims to improve the return to work experience of cancer survivors by developing a suite of resources that support survivors returning to work with particular emphasis on rural and outer metropolitan communities, and to disseminate these resources widely via Cancer Council Australia’s website and other relevant networks.

To inform the development of these resources, the research team will

  • Conduct a review of existing resources and recent literature in programs and resources to support people with cancer return to work to identify gaps and areas of need;
  • Consult with cancer survivors, health professionals working with cancer patients, and experts in return to work via focus groups across South Australia to identify unmet needs and barriers, particularly among disadvantaged communities; and
  • Convene an Expert Consensus Forum to review all data and inform the creation of new resources.

 It is anticipated this project will result in the development of a suite of return to work resources comprised of key evidence-based recommendations, practical resources and tools presented as a series of digital modules accessed via Cancer Council Australia’s existing wiki-platform.  Modules will be tailored to address the diverse cancer-related return to work needs identified for disadvantaged consumer groups, with resources provided for consumers, oncology professionals, general practitioners and employers. It will also lead to a greater understanding of the support needs of disadvantaged communities with regards to return to employment and increase engagement of stakeholders within the area of support for return to employment.

For more information about the study, please contact Professor Bogda Koczwara at or the Secretary of Oncology on 08 8204 8997.

This project is a Cancer Australia ‘Supporting people with cancer’ Grant initiative, funded by the Australian Government. It is being conducted in collaboration with the Menzies School of Health Research, Cancer Council Australia, the University of Melbourne, the University of Western Australia, and Cancer Voices.