Breast Cancer Survivors Report Similar Concerns Related to Return to Work in Developed and Developing Nations

Shi Xiang Luo, Jun E. Liu, Shu Kei Cheng, Shu Qin Xiao, Ya Li Su, Michael Feuerstein

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


Aim To determine whether breast cancer survivors (BCS) at work following the diagnosis and/or treatment of breast cancer, in a rapidly developing country such as China experience similar to return to work challenges as reported in nations with established return to work (RTW) policy and procedures for employees with cancer. Methods Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 16 BCS who returned to work following diagnosis and/or primary cancer treatment. An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis was used to investigate responses. Results Three recurring themes emerged: (1) challenges at work related to residual effects of diagnosis and/or primary treatment; (2) positive and negative responses from employers and/or supervisors; and (3) positive and negative responses from co-workers/colleagues. Although several participants experienced a high level of workplace support, there was a subgroup that did report challenges related to symptom burden, cognitive limitations, and both positive and negative responses by employers and co-workers were reported. Conclusions Findings indicate similar challenges in BCS who RTW during and/or following cancer treatment in both rapidly developing and developed nations. Results suggest that regardless of the existence of workplace policies and practices related to RTW for workers with a history of cancer, a subgroup of BCS experience similar challenges when returning to work. These findings highlight the international nature of RTW challenges and suggest the need for more global efforts to develop and evaluate workplace interventions to assist with these similarities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Occupational Rehabilitation
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 14 Feb 2018


  • Breast cancer
  • Cancer survivors
  • Phenomenological analysis
  • Return to work
  • Symptom management
  • Workplace support

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation
  • Occupational Therapy


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