Breast cancer specialists' perspective on their role in their patients' return to work: A qualitative study

Scand J Work Environ Health. 2020 Mar 1;46(2):177-187. doi: 10.5271/sjweh.3847. Epub 2019 Aug 21.


Objectives This study aimed to explore the views of breast cancer (BC) specialists as to their role in the return-to-work (RTW) process of their BC patients. Methods A qualitative study using semi-structured interviews was conducted in a sample of 20 BC specialists selected according to age, gender, medical specialty (medical oncology, radiation oncology, gynecological surgery), and healthcare organization (regional cancer center, university or private hospital). All interviews were audiotaped and transcribed for qualitative thematic content analysis. Results BC specialists had heterogeneous representations and practices regarding their role in their patients` RTW process, ranging from non-involvement to frequent discussion. Most BC specialists had concerns regarding the "right time and right way" to address patient`s RTW. They hardly mentioned workplace and job factors as potential barriers but rather stressed motivation. The main reported barriers to involvement in the RTW process were lack of time, lack of knowledge, lack of skills, and a professional attitude exclusively focused on cancer care issues. Conclusion While our study showed varying representations and practices among BC specialists, participants consistently identified barriers in supporting BC survivors` RTW. The results will guide the development of an intervention to facilitate the role of BC specialists in the RTW process as part of a multicomponent intervention to facilitate BC survivors` RTW.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Breast Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Female
  • France
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Physician-Patient Relations
  • Physicians / psychology*
  • Qualitative Research
  • Return to Work / psychology*
  • Specialization