Colorado PROFILES, The Colorado Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute (CCTSI)
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We propose a longitudinal study of cancer patients' and their spouses' abilities to remain in the work force after a cancer diagnosis. Very little is known about the abilities of these individuals to restore their lives after they mounted an initial effort to survive treatment. We will collect data from patients at four time points: diagnosis, 4-6 months after diagnosis, and 12 and 18 months post-diagnosis. By labor market decisions, we mean changes in patients' and spouses' employment status, decisions to remain in jobs, and changes in hours worked. We will compare our study groups' labor market decisions and outcomes to a cohort of similar individuals in the Current Population Survey (CPS) to ensure that the changes we observe in the labor market decisions in the cancer population are not due to changes in the economy or changes attributable to aging. Specifically, our aims are to: 1) Determine if patients diagnosed with cancer increase or decrease labor market participation; 2) For patients who are married, examine if their spouses increase or decrease their labor market participation; 3) Determine if changes in employment status lead to consequences such as changes in income and health insurance coverage; and 4) Estimate the productivity costs of cancer and its treatment for patients and their spouses that can be used in future studies of cost-effectiveness comparing various cancer therapies.

We address the labor market effects of cancer and its treatment in an important way -- we hypothesize that the demand for health insurance is a primary motivator to remain in the work force. Our study will provide a unique, rich data set that models the labor market experience of patients and their spouses. These data will be the most comprehensive data available on the employment and economic experience of survivors and their spouses and can 1) be used to inform public policy and 2) provide estimates of productivity losses for future studies of cost-effectiveness of screening and treatment.
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