This qualitative study followed participants enrolled in a return to work (RTW) intervention, aiming to address individual physical, psychological and work-related challenges.
To explore cancer survivors’ experiences of receiving a tailored RTW intervention initiated parallel with chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy.
Two semi-structured interviews of eight female cancer survivors in treatment for breast cancer (n = 7) or ovaria cancer (n = 1) were conducted prior or close to their RTW and 3-5 months later. Inspired by Margrit Schreier’s inductive analysis coding and identification of themes guided the analysis.
Participants expressed satisfaction with the RTW intervention, which helped them to cope during the RTW process. Three themes with corresponding subthemes dominated the participants’ experience of the RTW intervention. 1) Social workers made participants feel individually coached, 2) Collaboration with social workers helped over time to manage RTW, and 3) Social workers supported participants to conduct and adjust the RTW plan.
This study shows how the interaction with social workers were based on mutual trust and sense of being cared for, which seems to have a positive impact on how participants managed their RTW. Future research needs to address the long-term challenges in cancer survivors’ RTW.