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Original Research

Open Access

Fears of COVID-19 and cancer recurrence related to work sustainability among male cancer survivors

  • Xiangyu Liu1
  • Andy SK Cheng2
  • Yingchun Zeng2
  • Xinqing Zhang3
  • Xiaowei Peng4
  • Huiping Hu4
  • Hua Li4
  • Michael Feuerstein5

1Center of Health Service, Hunan Cancer Hospital, Changsha, P. R. China

2Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong, P. R. China

3School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Peking Union Medical College, Beijing, P. R. China

4Department of Surgery, Hunan Cancer Hospital, Changsha, P. R. China

5Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, USA

DOI: 10.31083/jomh.2021.012

Online publish date: 28 January 2021

*Corresponding Author(s): Xinqing Zhang E-mail:

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Purpose: Male cancer survivors represent an important at-risk population for COVID-19. The COVID-19 pandemic requires a global response for this most vulnerable population. This study purpose was to explore whether fear of COVID-19 and fear of cancer recurrence are related to the likelihood of remaining at work following treatment in male cancer survivors.

Survivors and methods: A cross-sectional survey was used. Data were collected in China in May to June 2020. The Fear of COVID-19 Scale, Fear of Cancer Recurrence (FCR) Inventory-Short Form and work sustainability subscale of the Readiness for Return to Work Scale were completed by male cancer survivors.

Results: A total of 121 employed male cancer survivors participated in this study. Fear of COVID-19 and fear of cancer recurrence were both negatively correlated with work sustainability (β = -0.11, and β = -0.19, respectively). Significant interaction effects between fear of COVID-19 and fear of cancer recurrence were observed (β = 0.46, P < 0.01). Advanced disease stage, undergoing radiation therapy and having recently completed cancer treatment were all factors related to lower work sustainability scores (β = -0.28, β = -0.15, and β = -0.17, respectively). The overall path model yielded a good fit: χ2/df = 1.12 (P = 0.24), RMSEA = 0.07, TLI = 0.98, CFI = 0.99, IFI = 0.92, and NFI = 0.96.

Conclusion: Fear of COVID-19 is a mediator between fear of cancer recurrence and work sustainability among Chinese male cancer survivors. The findings also indicated that male cancer survivors with higher FCR levels reported less confidence in their ability to remain at work. This information can assist in the development of new interventions and educational programs for cancer survivors, healthcare providers and employers, to improve employees' ability to remain at work.


Fear of COVID-19; Fear of cancer recurrence; Work retention; Male cancer survivors

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Xiangyu Liu,Andy SK Cheng,Yingchun Zeng,Xinqing Zhang,Xiaowei Peng,Huiping Hu,Hua Li,Michael Feuerstein. Fears of COVID-19 and cancer recurrence related to work sustainability among male cancer survivors. Journal of Men's Health. 2021.doi:10.31083/jomh.2021.012.


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