Knowledge of Legal Protections and Employment-Related Resources Among Young Adults with Cancer

Melissa Scardaville, Kathleen Murphy, Feng Liu, and Steven Boydston, AIR
Rhonda Robert, The University of Texas MD Anderson
Ki Shin, The University of Texas MD Anderson
Vinh Nguyen, Independent Living Research Utilization
Lex Frieden, University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston

This article appears in the Journal of Adolescent and Young Adult Oncology, Volume 8, Number 3, 2019.

Young adults (aged 18–39 years) who have received a cancer diagnosis can encounter significant barriers in their transition to employment. American young adults' familiarity with federal legislation and resources related to employment is unclear. The study questions included:

  • To what extent do young adults who have had a cancer diagnosis know about legal and programmatic supports that may help to address their employment-related needs?
  • What modes of receiving information about resources to address their employment-related concerns do young adults who have had a cancer diagnosis prefer?

A cross-sectional online survey was conducted with a convenience sample composed of 203 young adults living in the United States, had a cancer diagnosis other than nonmelanoma skin cancer, and were between 18 and 39 years of age. Over half (57.6%) of respondents received a cancer diagnosis at age 24 years or older. The mean age at participation was 30.4.


More than half of the sample (57.0%) was familiar with the Americans with Disabilities Act yet many did not know that cancer was a covered condition. Almost 80% of the respondents were not familiar with other federal initiatives with employment protections for people with cancer. Participants preferred in-person trainings and resource fact sheets as the presentation channels, although sociodemographic factors such as employment status were related to preferred delivery methods.

The researchers conclude that these young adults would benefit from additional outreach around federal guidelines concerning employment-related rights and services and programs applicable to young adult cancer survivors.

The contents of this article were developed under subcontract to Southwest Educational Development Laboratory, an affiliate of American Institutes of Research, from Southwest ADA Center (SWADA).