Educational attainment and work disability in cancer survivors: Do diagnosis and comorbidity affect this association?

Christina M. Stapelfeldt, Saskia F.A. Duijts, Trine A. Horsboel, Anne Mette H. Momsen, Niels T. Andersen, Finn B. Larsen, Karina Friis, Claus V. Nielsen

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Objectives: To study whether educational attainment had less impact on work disability in cancer survivors than in individuals without cancer. To study whether comorbidity had a higher impact on work disability in low-educated cancer survivors than in high-educated and whether this impact differed when compared with individuals without cancer. Methods: Linkage of population-based public health survey data and the Danish Cancer Registry formed two groups: cancer survivors (n = 3,514) and cancer-free individuals (n = 171,262). In logistic regression models, the risk of experiencing an 8-week sick leave spell and the granting of disability pension within a 3-year follow-up period was studied in three educational levels and whether these associations were modified by history of cancer and comorbidity. Odds ratios (OR) with 95% confidence intervals (CI) are reported. Results: Non-stratified adjusted risk of experiencing an 8-week sick leave spell (OR: 1.41, 95% CI (1.33–1.49)) or being granted a disability pension (OR: 1.61, 95% CI (1.31–1.97)) was significantly higher in low-educated than in high-educated respondents. Cancer or comorbidity did not significantly interact with education on the risk of work disability. Conclusions: A moderate impact of low education on future work disability was found for all respondents, neither history of cancer nor comorbidity modified this association.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere13228
JournalEuropean journal of cancer care
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2020


  • cancer survivors
  • disability evaluation
  • educational status
  • population health
  • registries
  • sick leave

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