P. McGrath,1 M. Skarparis,2 B Hartigan.2
1 Griffith Health Institute, Griffith University; 2 Leukaemia Foundation of Queensland.
Due to improved prognosis of many forms of cancer, an increasing number of cancer survivors are willing and able to return to work after treatment. This paper presents a sub-set of findings on the experience of haematology patients returning to work after treatment from a major survivorship study funded by the Leukaemia Foundation of Queensland. A qualitative methodology was used including 50 open-ended interviews and one focus group audio-recorded, transcribed verbatim, coded and thematically analysed. All participants had to meet the criteria for survivorship in that they were an adult individual with a haematological malignancy who was at least one year post-diagnosis. 50 participants (n = 26 male; n= 24 female) participated representative of a range of ages, geographical locations and the major haematological diagnostic groups including Multiple Myeloma (n = 15), Lymphoma (n = 14), Leukaemia (n = 17) and other (n = 4). Of the overall cohort, 11 participants had a Bone Marrow Transplant and 15 had a Stem Cell Transplant (allogeneic and autologous transplants). There were three groups identified in relation to employment: (1) those who were retired and work was not an issue; (2) those who had successfully re-entered the workforce; and, (3) those who wanted to work but were finding the process of return-to-work difficult. It is the third group that is the major focus for this presentation. The clear indications are that Group 3 requires assistance with return-to-work and were vulnerable to a range of psychosocial distress caused by inability to return to employment. The presentation outlines an innovative ‘return to work’ program presently being developed by the Leukaemia Foundation of Queensland in response to this research.