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New Survey Shows Cancer Survivors Overwhelmingly Support Workplace Vaccine Requirements, Mask Mandates, Other Safety Measures

Black, Hispanic Workers with Cancer Report Discrimination Related to Diagnosis, Need for Accommodations
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WASHINGTON, Dec. 8, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- At a time when work environments around the country are being driven by COVID-19 safety concerns, a new survey from Cancer and Careers shows that measures like more flexible work hours, remote work and increased safety precautions could also make work safer and more accessible for the millions of Americans who have been diagnosed with cancer.

New survey shows cancer survivors support COVID workplace vaccine requirements, mask mandates and other safety measures.

In the nearly two years since the pandemic began, just under 3.5 million Americans have been diagnosed with cancer. According to the survey conducted online by The Harris Poll on behalf of Cancer and Careers from Aug. 6 - Sept. 13, 2021, among 876 adult respondents who have been diagnosed with cancer, the majority (78%) of survivors have had to make changes to their work-lives to help them continue working. Many of these changes have become the norm in American workplaces during the pandemic. Nearly half (46%) of those employed full or part time or who worked at the time of their diagnosis have had to take extra days off, almost 1 in 3 (29%) have had to reduce their work schedules and about a quarter (23%) have had to ask for additional accommodations from their employer, including flexible scheduling and remote work.  

Also, cancer survivors say that COVID-19 safety measures are essential to their on-site participation in work. More than three-quarters (78%) of individuals diagnosed with cancer say it is important that their company have vaccine requirement policies in place. Additional safety measures that are important include thorough cleaning of the work area (65%), availability of sanitization/cleaning supplies (62%) and mask mandates (58%). Rebecca Nellis, MPP, executive director of Cancer and Careers, says the COVID-19 pandemic may have opened a door for employers to be more understanding and accommodating of employees with cancer or other chronic disease.

"Overwhelmingly, the nearly 17 million cancer survivors in the U.S. and their employers benefit when we create environments and policies that allow them to more fully participate in the workforce. This pandemic has forced us to rethink our traditional requirements and create working conditions that allow every employee to perform safely and productively. As workplaces continue to navigate challenges created by the pandemic, they should collaborate with their employees who have been diagnosed with cancer to ensure that their needs are being met as well," said Nellis.

While the pandemic continues to cause universal shifts and challenges in the work world, inequities and discrimination endure. Black and Hispanic individuals who have been diagnosed with cancer say their race or ethnicity played a negative role in how they were treated at work after diagnosis (55%), according to a subgroup survey by Wakefield Research. After diagnosis, nearly 2 in 5 (38%) respondents felt they were treated differently than co-workers in similar positions, and almost a quarter (24%) encountered insensitive or offensive comments. Income level was also associated with reported discriminatory treatment among Black and Hispanic respondents. More than half (55%) of Black and Hispanic cancer patients and survivors who earn less than $50K reported being treated differently than their co-workers when they were diagnosed, compared to just 26% of those who earn $50K or more.

"The surveys reinforce that a large segment of our workforce is ready and willing to work but experiencing challenges because of a cancer diagnosis," said Nellis. "At a time of significant staffing upheaval and transition, employers can benefit from the determination of these workers to continue to contribute and be productive. To that end, it is important to create an environment in every work setting that will help accommodate them."

About Cancer and Careers

Cancer and Careers, founded in 2001, is a national nonprofit that empowers and educates people with cancer to thrive in their workplace by providing expert advice, interactive tools and educational events. The organization reaches more than 485,000 individuals per year online, in print and in person. Its free services include a comprehensive website and library of publications in English and Spanish; legal and insurance information; career coaching; resume review; direct financial assistance; technology access grants; and national events and workshops for people with cancer and their healthcare providers, coworkers and employers.

Harris Poll MethodologyThe research was conducted online by The Harris Poll on behalf of Cosmetic Executive Women Foundation from August 2 - September 13, 2021 among 876 US adults age 18+ who've been diagnosed with cancer and are employed full time, part time or are unemployed but looking for work. 808 respondents were full or part time employed and 68 were unemployed but looking for work. The data were weighted to targets from the Centers of Disease Control's 2017 NHIS (National Health Interview Survey) data for the US age 18+ population who have been diagnosed with cancer and are either employed or not employed but looking for work. The variables used for weighting included age by gender, education, race/ethnicity, region and household income and a variable that proportions those who are employed and those who are not employed but looking for work. The weighting algorithm also included a propensity score which allowing for adjustments for attitudinal and behavioral differences between those who are online versus those who are not, those who join online panels versus those who do not, and those who responded to this survey versus those who did not. Respondents for this survey were selected among those who have agreed to participate in online surveys. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

Wakefield Research Methodology

The Cancer and Careers Survey was conducted by Wakefield Research ( among 100 African American and 100 Hispanic cancer patients and survivors who are working or have worked during treatment, between July 20th and August 3rd, 2021, using an email invitation and an online survey. The margin of error for the survey is +/- 9.8% among each audience of 100 African American and 100 Hispanic cancer patients and survivors and +/- 6.9% among the full sample of 200 cancer patients and survivors.

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SOURCE Cancer and Careers