Presentation T P4
T P4 (Poster Presentation):
Survivors’ experiences of work after cancer
- University of Ottawa, Faculty of Health Sciences, Ottawa, Canada
For many working-aged cancer survivors, the ability to return to work and maintain work over time represents a significant quality of life indicator. However, there is currently a lack of resources to assist survivors with navigating this process. As a first step in a multi-phase study toward informing resources to address this gap, survivors’ work integration experiences were explored.
Photovoice methods were combined with community-based interviews (Nov 2012-Jan 2014). Each participant (10 women and 10 men) was individually interviewed twice. During the first interview, participant demographics, cancer, health and work were discussed. Then, over the next month, participants took photographs that depicted a meaningful representation of their work experiences following cancer. During a second individual interview, the participant presented their photographs and discussed the intended meaning. The photographs and text were qualitatively analyzed to identify key themes (interpretive description).
Overwhelmingly, return to work was motivated by psychosocial considerations (e.g., desired return to normalcy and healthy function, support of co-workers, distraction from cancer) with financial incentives playing a distant, if any, role. No, or limited, related counsel was offered by health professionals. As a result, survivors were left to independently determine if they would take leave, if and when they would return to work. Survivors were also often required to independently arrange required accommodations. Survivors characterized successful return to work as a respectful, collaborative, and customized process respectful of idiosyncratic variables inherent to their recovery, values, and employment.
The findings from this study underscore survivors’ desire to have support available to facilitate work integration decisions and planning. Participants’ experiences suggest that successful support must be holistic (physical, cognitive and emotional considerations), individualized to survivors’ circumstance, and collaboratively delivered.
Tuesday September 30
12:45 - 13:45 Poster Viewing
Session: Social issues