How do children's cancer diagnoses affect parents' income?

February 12, 2018, Wiley

A new study from Sweden found that social benefits often ease the financial burdens experienced by the parents of children recently diagnosed with cancer, but mothers experienced persistently lower income after benefits diminished. Published early online in Cancer, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society, the findings indicate that additional efforts may be needed to address the financial hardships experienced by the mothers of children with cancer.

While are being treated for , their must often deal with significant challenges—from providing full-time support to their children as they go through treatments and hospital visits to dealing with their own psychological distress—that can disrupt work and lead to reduced income and financial difficulties.

Few studies have looked at how government support programs compensate the costs of parenting a child with cancer. To investigate this issue, a team led by Ayako Hiyoshi, PhD, of Örebro University and Örebro University Hospital and Emma Hovén, PhD, of Karolinska Institute gathered information from Swedish national registers and examined the trajectories of parents' income from different sources. Parents of children with cancer diagnosed between 2004 and 2009 were identified and matched with reference parents, or parents of children without cancer. In total, 20,091 families were followed from the year before the diagnosis to a maximum of eight years.

The team found that around the time of the child's , the total income was on average up to six percent higher in of children with cancer compared with reference mothers, but no differences were seen in fathers. Income from work dropped to the lowest level around the time of cancer diagnosis, with swift recovery for fathers but not for mothers. Sickness and childcare-related benefits, which compensated for the income loss, were up to six times larger for parents of children with cancer than for reference parents. However, as social benefits diminished after about three years for parents of children with cancer, mothers' total income became lower than that of reference mothers, and the gap persisted over time.

"A significant and unexpected finding was that, although income from employment stayed lower for several years for mothers, total income was higher for mothers of children with cancer around the time of the child's cancer diagnosis when the compensation from social benefits were included," said Dr. Hiyoshi. "The persistently lower from employment for mothers of children with cancer compared with mothers of cancer-free children implies potential long-term consequences for the mothers of children with cancer, including their career and future pension in old age."

Explore further: Cancer in children adversely affects parents' income and employment

More information: Ayako Hiyoshi et al, Trajectories of income and social benefits for mothers and fathers of children with cancer: A national cohort study in Sweden, Cancer (2018). DOI: 10.1002/cncr.31123

Related Stories

Cancer in children adversely affects parents' income and employment

November 21, 2016
Having a child with cancer led to income reductions for parents and job discontinuation among mothers in a recent study, even after adjusting for pre-diagnosis sociodemographic factors. Published early online in Cancer, a ...

Parents' demanding jobs put children's mental health at risk

December 6, 2017
Jobs that are overly demanding at the expense of family time put the mental health of employees' children at risk, a new study led by ANU has found.

Is it ok for parents to be supportive to children's negative emotions?

June 16, 2017
New research suggests that whereas mothers who are more supportive of their children's negative emotions rate their children as being more socially skilled, these same children appear less socially adjusted when rated by ...

For some cancers, risk lower among kids of non-US-born Hispanic mothers

April 25, 2016
The children of Hispanic mothers not born in the United States appeared to have a lower risk for some types of childhood cancers, according to an article published online by JAMA Pediatrics.

Child's cancer often causes parents severe distress: study

April 2, 2013
(HealthDay)—Many parents of children with advanced cancer have high to severe levels of psychological distress, a new study finds.

Recommended for you

Scientists discover new method of diagnosing cancer with malaria protein

August 17, 2018
In a spectacular new study, researchers from the University of Copenhagen have discovered a method of diagnosing a broad range of cancers at their early stages by utilising a particular malaria protein that sticks to cancer ...

Researchers find pathways that uncover insight into development of lung cancer

August 17, 2018
Lung cancer is the leading cause of preventable cancer death. A disease of complex origin, lung cancer is usually considered to result from effects of smoking and from multiple genetic variants. One of these genetic components, ...

Developing an on-off switch for breast cancer treatment

August 17, 2018
T-cells play an important role in the body's immune system, and one of their tasks is to find and destroy infection. However, T-cells struggle to identify solid, cancerous tumors in the body. A current cancer therapy is using ...

Pregnant? Eating broccoli sprouts may reduce child's chances of breast cancer later in life

August 16, 2018
Researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham have found that a plant-based diet is more effective in preventing breast cancer later in life for the child if the mother consumed broccoli while pregnant. The 2018 ...

Scientists discover chemical which can kill glioblastoma cells

August 15, 2018
Aggressive brain tumour cells taken from patients self-destructed after being exposed to a chemical in laboratory tests, researchers have shown.

Three scientists share $500,000 prize for work on cancer therapy

August 15, 2018
Tumors once considered untreatable have disappeared and people previously given months to live are surviving for decades thanks to new therapies emerging from the work of three scientists chosen to receive a $500,000 medical ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.