The Contribution of Psychological Resilience and Job Meaningfulness to Well-being of Working Cancer Survivors

Dianhan Zheng, Kennesaw State University
Alexander R. Marbut, University of Alabama
Jing Zhang, California State University, San Bernardino
Louise C. O’Keefe, The University of Alabama in Huntsville


Background: Although studies suggest that cancer survivors face workplace obstacles, to date there has been little empirical research regarding the personal and environmental factors that can help cancer survivors adjust to work. The purpose of this study was to examine how working survivors’ resilience and job meaningfulness were related to their well-being outcomes, including lower cancer-related intrusive thoughts, fatigue, and presenteeism. Methods: We recruited 200 full-time employed cancer survivors from online participant panels using Qualtrics. Participants responded to an online survey that measured their resilience, job meaningfulness, job-related psychological distress, and well-being outcomes. We conducted descriptive statistical analysis, confirmatory factor analysis, and moderated mediated analysis to examine the psychological process in which resilience and job meaning are associated with cancer survivors’ mental health and work outcomes. Findings: The relationship between cancer survivors’ resilience and their well-being outcomes depended on job meaningfulness. For survivors whose jobs were not highly meaningful, their resilience was related to reduced job-related psychological distress, which, in turn, was related to lower intrusive thoughts, fatigue, and presenteeism. For survivors with highly meaningful jobs, they did not need to rely on resilience to protect them from workplace psychological distress and other negative outcomes. Conclusion/Application to Practice: It is important for working cancer survivors to develop resilience, especially when they do not perceive their work as highly meaningful. Successful resilience-building interventions can buffer the negative impact of low job meaningfulness and help working survivors achieve better outcomes. In addition, organizations can actively help enrich survivors’ jobs to increase perceived meaningfulness.