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Impact of Childhood Cancer on Maternal Employment in Japan

Okada, Hiromi MSN, RN; Maru, Mitsue DSN, RN; Maeda, Rumi MSN, RN; Iwasaki, Fuminori MD; Nagasawa, Masayuki MD, PhD; Takahashi, Miyako MD, PhD

doi: 10.1097/NCC.0000000000000123

Background: Family members of children with cancer experience various long-term effects as a result of cancer diagnosis and treatment. Therefore, comprehensive and long-term support is needed. As the employment rate of women has increased in recent years, support for working mothers with children diagnosed with cancer is also required.

Objective: We investigated the following issues and relevant changes that working mothers of children diagnosed with cancer must deal with: (1) work change, (2) stress, (3) social support, (4) work motivation, and (5) employment status after diagnosis.

Methods: A cross-sectional exploratory study design was used. Data were collected from 62 mothers of children who were diagnosed with cancer using self-report questionnaires.

Results: Of the 32 mothers who worked at the time of diagnosis, 10 continued to work, 12 took an extended leave, and 10 quit working, and 70% lost motivation for work following diagnosis. Half of mothers who continued to work during treatment reported financial reasons.

Conclusions: These findings indicate that mothers who quit work following diagnosis did not initially consider a long leave of absence. Even mothers who continued to work during treatment desired a long leave of absence to care for their children.

Implications for Practice: Nurses should provide mothers with explanations of the prospects after the completion of cancer treatment and determine their expectations for their lifestyle and work during treatment. We recommend that nurses confirm mothers’ willingness to take a long leave of absence from work and give relevant advice about seeking financial assistance.

Author Affiliations: Graduate School of Health Care Sciences, Tokyo Medical and Dental University (Mrs Okada, Prof Maru, and Mrs Maeda); Division of Hemato-oncology Regenerative Medicine, Kanagawa Children’s Medical Center, Yokohama (Dr Iwasaki); Department of Pediatrics, Tokyo Medical and Dental University (Dr Nagasawa); and Division of Cancer Survivorship Research, National Cancer Center, Tokyo (Dr Takahashi), Japan.

This study was supported by Grant-in-Aid for Cancer Research (H22-Ippan-008) from the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, Japan: Building a Comprehensive Employment Support System for Working Patients With Cancer and Their Family Members (principal investigator: Dr Takahashi).

The authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose.

Correspondence: Hiromi Okada, MSN, RN, Graduate School of Health Care Science, Tokyo Medical and Dental University, Yushima 1-5-45, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo, 113-8519 Japan (

Accepted for publication November 9, 2013.

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