Factors influencing work functioning after cancer diagnosis: a focus group study with cancer survivors and occupational health professionals

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Cancer survivors (CSs) frequently return to work, but little is known about work functioning after return to work (RTW). We aimed to identify barriers and facilitators of work functioning among CSs.

Three focus groups were conducted with CSs (n = 6, n = 8 and n = 8) and one focus group with occupational health professionals (n = 7). Concepts were identified by thematic analysis, using the Cancer and Work model as theoretical framework to structure the results.

Long-lasting symptoms (e.g. fatigue), poor adaptation, high work ethics, negative attitude to work, ambiguous communication, lack of support and changes in the work environment were mentioned as barriers of work functioning. In contrast, staying at work during treatment, open dialogue, high social support, appropriate work accommodations and high work autonomy facilitated work functioning.

Not only cancer-related symptoms affect work functioning of CSs after RTW but also psychosocial and work-related factors. The barriers and facilitators of work functioning should be further investigated in studies with a longitudinal design to examine work functioning over time.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)261-266
Number of pages6
JournalSupportive Care in Cancer
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan-2016


  • Cancer
  • Qualitative research
  • Work functioning
  • Supportive care
  • Occupational rehabilitation

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