Returning to work following curative chemotherapy: a qualitative study of return to work barriers and preferences for intervention
Shanahan, Ernst Michael
Lawn, Sharon Joy
Karapetis, Christos Stelios
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Purpose This study aimed to explore barriers to return to work (RTW) and preferences for intervention and support for cancer patients treated with curative intent from the perspectives of cancer survivors and oncology health professionals. Methods Participants attended a focus group (N = 24) or an individual interview (N=14). A topic guide and a semi-structured recorded interview format were used to gather data, which were later transcribed and analysed for global themes and subthemes. Results With regard to barriers, the global theme ‘work capacity’ captured an array of barriers encompassing financial pressure, preparedness for work, lack of confidence as well as other key physical, practical and psychosocial barriers. Participants expressed a preference for RTW models that focus on objective and structured assessment whilst allowing for flexibility to address individual needs. Conclusions Cancer survivors perceive multiple barriers when attempting to RTW. These barriers were perceived to impact upon work-capacity, where ‘capacity’ was defined broadly to include practical, physical and psychosocial concerns. RTW is an important concern for cancer survivors and structured RTW interventions should be incorporated into the care of cancer survivors.