Family members' experiences of the return to work of cancer survivors

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Although family members play an important role in various aspects of coping with cancer and are significantly affected by it, little is known about their perspectives regarding return to work (RTW). This study explored attitudes and experiences of cancer survivors' family members related to cancer survivors' RTW. The present study consists of a qualitative research design, employing in-depth semistructured interviews with first-degree family members (N = 21) of cancer survivors who were approached through online social networks: spouses, children, parents and siblings. Grounded theory techniques were used for data analysis. Four themes emerged from the interviews: (a) the family's cautious voice in return-to-work decision making; (b) work–home imbalance; (c) inhibiting or promoting the effect of work on the recovery process and (d) expectations and appreciation of unconditional workplace support. The findings suggest that psychosocial and health care professionals should help family members play an active role in the decision of RTW. Professionals should also prepare family members for potential costs of RTW for the family and help them develop realistic expectations regarding workplace support of the cancer survivor.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)184-192
Number of pages9
JournalHealth and Social Care in the Community
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


  • cancer survivors
  • caretakers
  • family
  • return to work

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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