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Keywords:

  • cancer;
  • oncology;
  • gynaecological;
  • work;
  • qualitative;
  • survivor

Abstract

Objective: There are an increasing number of gynaecological cancer survivors for whom returning to work is a realistic outcome. There is little research to date specifically examining the return to work experience of survivors of gynaecological cancers. The aim of this study was to explore gynaecological cancer survivors' experience of work over a 1-year period post-treatment.

Methods: A total of 55 gynaecological cancer survivors completed a semi-structured interview following completion of their treatment and of these 36 also completed a follow-up interview 12 months later. In total, 91 interviews were recorded and transcribed verbatim. Framework analysis of the transcripts was undertaken.

Results: Three super-ordinate themes were identified and these were labelled ‘Meaning of work’, ‘Disclosure of cancer diagnosis’ and ‘Readjustment’. Overall, there were few changes in working patterns between the two interview points with the majority of women returning to the same role. Although a desire to make work-related changes was expressed at baseline, few women had initiated such changes 1-year post-treatment.

Conclusions: Employees may experience difficulties due to residual symptoms, such as continuing fatigue, or as a result of unrealistic expectations about returning to full employment soon after treatment has completed. The results highlight the need for an intervention to support gynaecological cancer survivors to cope with long-term residual symptoms and manage expectations about returning to work. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.