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Workplace support after breast cancer treatment: recognition of vulnerability

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Abstract

Background: Support from the workplace seems to be a key element in addressing the poor return-to-work (RTW) rate of employees with breast cancer. We aim to acquire an in-depth understanding of how Flemish employees experience their RTW after breast cancer and the support from the workplace. Method: Fourteen in-depth interviews of women who experienced breast cancer and returned to work (high school graduates, age range 42-55 years, mean age 48 at time of surgery) were analysed using the Qualitative Analysis Guide of Leuven (QUAGOL), based on a Grounded Theory approach. Results: The key experiences were feeling vulnerable, feeling able to work and need for support. Although little diversity in RTW experiences was found, the background of the vulnerability varied. Women experienced support (which could be emotional or practical) only as adequate if it addressed their specific vulnerability. Conclusions: Employees felt particularly vulnerable. Vulnerability is not the same as low-work ability and as such it should be added as theoretical concept in RTW research. Adequate workplace support addresses the specific vulnerability of an individual woman. Our study offers a nuanced insight into the RTW process of breast cancer survivors.

    Research areas

  • Breast cancer, return to work, support, vulnerability, work ability, RETURN-TO-WORK, SICKNESS ABSENCE, SOCIAL SUPPORT, HEALTH-CARE, SURVIVORS, ABILITY, WOMEN, EMPLOYMENT, DIAGNOSIS, IMPACT
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Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1770-1776
Number of pages7
JournalDisability and Rehabilitation
Volume37
Issue number18-19
Early online date17 Nov 2014
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015