NYMC Faculty Publications

Returning to employment following allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplant: A major problem among survivors

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Quality of life (QoL) is an important aspect of cancer survivorship. One of the most acute problems that impact survivors in many aspects of activities of daily living and compromise their QoL is the inability to return to employment following successful cancer therapy. This is most prominent among survivors after allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplant (allo-HSCT). More than 50% of the survivors following allo-HSCT remain unemployed one year after the procedure. This problem extends beyond the initial few years; unemployment rates among those who underwent allo-HSCT during their childhoods or adolescence have remained high. The inability to return to employment imposes a financial burden. Survivors following allo-HSCT also experience a multitude of chronic psychosocial complications that may be both contributing and consequential to the inability to return to employment. However, many transplant programs and cancer centers do not have return-to-employment programs. In this review paper, we discuss the prevalence of unemployment following allo-HSCT. We examine the psychosocial symptoms experienced by survivors and how they may affect survivors' ability to return to employment. Finally, we propose a multi-disciplinary multi-pronged occupation-focused approach to address the complex and inter-related psychosocial symptoms to help alleviate the problem.