Effectiveness of the Managing Cancer at Work Program

November 2017 Vol 8, No 11
Marie Borsellino, RN, MSN, ONN-CG

Background: The number of cancer survivors is increasing because of advances in detection and treatment. More than 15.5 million Americans with a history of cancer were alive as of January 1, 2016, and that number is expected to climb to more than 20 million by January 1, 2026.1 Cancer, with the many aspects of care involved (treatment regimens, individual patient goals, legal protections), is complex. A comprehensive, easily accessible resource can be invaluable in assisting employee cancer survivors and caregivers to identify and meet their needs. There are both positive and negative impacts to the employee dealing with a cancer diagnosis,2 and, unfortunately, not many resources are available.

To fill this gap, the Managing Cancer at Work (MCaW) program was developed as a web-based resource for any employee diagnosed with cancer. In addition to providing educational content and resources, support is available through a workplace nurse navigator who can provide additional, reliable information about cancer. MCaW integrates educational information (text and video content) with the services of that workplace nurse navigator. Importantly, MCaW is accessible to employees and managers, giving both populations tools to communicate and ways to develop a supportive relationship with the employee dealing with cancer.3

Objectives: The objectives of this study are to identify and describe participant perception of the utility of the MCaW program in helping employees navigate their experience with cancer (either as a patient or a caregiver) through web-based resources and the services of a workplace nurse navigator.

Methods: The qualitative study sample is composed of individuals with access to the MCaW website and workplace nurse navigator who elect to complete a survey powered by SurveyMonkey. The opportunity to complete the survey is available to every visitor to the patient portal of MCaW and/or workplace nurse navigator. The survey will identify the level of satisfaction with various aspects of the MCaW website.

Variables of this study are the perceived value of the program, particularly in such realms as the provision of information (diagnostic and treatment information), support services (workplace nurse navigator), and the development of communication skills.

Likert scales are used to assess user’s perception of the overall value of the MCaW program for both participant categories (patient and caregiver), as well as a series of 8 additional questions. Also, the survey includes the opportunity for free responses to identify the aspects of the MCaW program that users liked the most and to share suggestions for program improvement.

Results: One hundred fifteen invitations were sent using SurveyMonkey to active users of MCaW services, and 42 responses have been received. Respondents reported the following:

  • Having a workplace navigator is very helpful (69.05%)
  • The video content on the website is very helpful (46.43%)
  • The diagnostic and cancer treatment section information was very helpful (46.43%)
  • How pleased have you been with the interactions with the workplace nurse navigator? 85.71% reported that the interactions were very helpful
  • 82.14% of respondents reported that the program/navigator helped reduce the time spent looking for answers on the Internet
  • 78.57% reported that the program/navigator provided options that helped reduce the amount of time off you needed from work
  • 57.14% reported that the program was very useful in helping to communicate with your coworkers about your illness and needs

The last question was free text, and here are some of the responses when asked if there were any additional comments:

“I am very grateful that the institution places value on its employees in this way. When things looked impossible, the program offered hope and reassurance that I was wanted for my skills and the hospital was willing to give me a chance to deal with my health issues and maintain my position.”

Very grateful!!

“I am just so amazed about how everyone supported and guided me through the journey. I never felt alone, and whatever fear I had was dealt with and discussed.”

Conclusion: This novel intervention available to working-age cancer survivors or caregivers provides much needed support and resources to tackle the myriad of issues related to managing a cancer diagnosis. Further research is needed to demonstrate the effectiveness of the workplace navigator to assist employees along the care continuum and deal with the needs that crop up as they transition through active treatment to long-term survival.


  1. American Cancer Society. Cancer Treatment & Survivorship Facts & Figures 2016-2017. www.cancer.org/content/dam/cancer-org/research/cancer-facts-and-statistics/cancer-treatment-and-survivorship-facts-and-figures/cancer-treatment-and-survivorship-facts-and-figures-2016-2017.pdf. 2017.
  2. Livestrong Foundation. Survivors’ Experiences with Employment. https://d1un1nybq8gi3x.cloudfront.net/sites/default/files/what-we-do/reports/2012Survey-SurvivorsExperienceWithWork_0.pdf. 2013.
  3. Shockney LD. Supporting your employees and managing cancer at work. Journal of Oncology Navigation & Survivorship. 2017;8(1):39.
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Last modified: August 10, 2023

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