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Journal Articles Social Science and Medicine Year : 2015

Educational trajectories after childhood cancer: When illness experience matters


With the increase in survival from childhood cancer , research has increasingly focused on the educational and professional achievements of childhood cancer survivors. Yet , if large-­‐scale studies provide an acute description of the current situation of childhood cancer survivors , little is known about their trajectories and the social processes shaping these trajectories. Using a qualitative methodology , drawing from a life course perspective , this study sought to describe the role of childhood cancer and its side effects in educational trajectories , as perceived by the participants. We investigated related processes of social adjustment to cancer , that is to say , choices or decisions that survivors related to the illness in the making of their career plans. Eighty long-­‐term French childhood cancer survivors participating in the Euro2K longitudinal study were interviewed through in-­‐depth , face-­‐to-­‐face interviews undertaken in 2011-­‐2012. There were various types of impact described by respondents of the diagnosis of cancer on their occupational trajectories. These varied according to gender. In women , childhood cancer tended to result in poor educational achievement , or in steering the individual towards a health care or child care occupation. This was justified by a desire to return the support that had been offered to them as patients. In men , however , childhood cancer led to a shift in career plans , because of physical sequelae , or because of concerns about their future health. Paradoxically , this limitation had a positive impact in their occupational achievement , as most of these men disregarded blue-­‐collar jobs and chose more qualified white-­‐collar occupations. Overall , findings suggest that childhood cancer influenced educational trajectories and , thus , socioeconomic status in adulthood , through mechanisms embedded in gender norms. These mechanisms could explain gender inequalities in educational achievement after childhood cancer reported in large-­‐scale cohort studies .
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Dates and versions

hal-01148955 , version 1 (05-05-2015)
hal-01148955 , version 2 (07-05-2015)



A. Dumas, I. Cailbault, C. Perrey, O. Oberlin, F. de Vathaire, et al.. Educational trajectories after childhood cancer: When illness experience matters. Social Science and Medicine, 2015, ⟨10.1016/j.socscimed.2015.04.031⟩. ⟨hal-01148955v2⟩
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