Cancer Stigma in the Workplace: The Impact of Varying Levels of Disclosure

Alexandra Lamm, Fordham University


Employment post-cancer is associated with increased financial stability, quality of life, and self-esteem. The majority of cancer patients return to work post-treatment but many feel stigmatized. How individuals without cancer actually perceive their colleagues with cancer and the influence of how much cancer patients disclose about their illness on such perceptions is understudied. This investigation assessed how individuals perceive a fictional colleague with cervical cancer depending on how much information about the illness, its cause, and treatment are disclosed. Participants included 200 adults who were randomly assigned to one of three disclosure groups. Each group listened to an audio vignette simulating a disclosure. The vignettes differed solely in the amount of information included about the illness, its cause, and treatment. Participants’ attitudes and levels of cancer stigma were measured. An exploratory factor analysis of the Cancer Stigma Scale largely confirmed the original factors and the semantic differential exhibited high reliability. Results indicated no significant differences in cancer stigma beliefs or attitudes toward a fictional colleague with cervical cancer between disclosure groups or gender groups with the exception of specific items regarding chastity. A correlational analysis suggested that individuals may think about the chaste-promiscuous word-pair differently than others in the semantic differential. Exploratory analyses revealed significant differences between racial/ethnic groups and contact groups. These findings are discussed in detail.

Subject Area

Psychology|Occupational psychology|Oncology

Recommended Citation

Lamm, Alexandra, "Cancer Stigma in the Workplace: The Impact of Varying Levels of Disclosure" (2019). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI10980379.