The treatment of cancer has improved and many of the patients’ will return to work. Cancer treatments can have significant impact on work- and functional abilities creating challenges for return to work. Occupational health care services have an important role in supporting patients’ Return-to-Work-process. The purpose of the study was to a) explore cancer patients experiences on support received from occupational health services and b) explore how the services need to be developed.
Qualitative approach with thematic interview as data collection method was used to explore breast cancer patientś experiences (N = 8). The data was analysed by using thematic content analysis. Five of the cancer patients interviewed had already returned to work after cancer treatments and three were returning work in short period of time.
The main challenges cancer patients confronted formed four categories; factors related to work, workplace, cancer and treatment types and to individual factors. The experienced support by occupational health services varied. The requirement to assess ability to work in the time of 90 sickness days was filled and planning the return-to-work in collaboration between occupational health care, cancer patient and employer occurred in most cases. However, otherwise, the role was passive and patients wished to have more contact with professionals working in the occupational health services.
Previous research highlights the need of collaboration between cancer patients and occupational health care services. Based on the study results, this collaboration needs to be enhanced. Occupational health care providers need to co-ordinate more actively the return-to-work -processes even the special health care is responsible for cancer treatments. From individual perspective, information, psychosocial support and regular evaluation of ability to work are forms of services cancer patient need from the occupational services for successful Return-to-Work. Results of this study can be used to developing occupational health services in national and international context.
Clinical trial identification
Legal entity responsible for the study
Turku University of Applied Sciences.
Has not received any funding.
All authors have declared no conflicts of interest.