Supportive Care in Cancer

, Volume 20, Issue 9, pp 1957–1964 | Cite as

Returning to work after treatment for haematological cancer: findings from Australia

  • Pam D. McGrath
  • Barbara Hartigan
  • Hamish Holewa
  • Maryanne Skarparis
Original Article



Despite the personal and economic importance of the issue of returning to work after cancer treatment, there are major limitations in the research literature on the topic. Indeed, in relation to the focus of the present article, the experience of return to work for Australian haematology patients, there is little research available.


The return-to-work findings are a sub-set from a study examining survivorship issues conducted through in-depth, qualitative interviews with a state-wide sample (n = 50) of individuals who were at least 1 year post-treatment for haematological malignancy.


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 paper.


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. Supportive care strategies to assist return to employment are provided.

Relevance of manuscript to inform research, policies and/or programs

Current improvements in cancer treatments have not only increased the number of cancer survivors but also peoples’ ability to work during and following treatment. Maximising opportunities for cancer patients to return to work is a significant concern not only for individuals and employers but also economically for society. The findings reported in this article explored the individual story of a range of individuals with haematological malignancies in relation to their desire and efforts to return to work. Importantly, the findings not only provide insights on the work re-entry challenges faced by such individuals but also posit supportive care service delivery solutions to assist those who are vulnerable and frustrated in their efforts to find employment.


Haematological malignancies Employment Qualitative research Supportive care 



The authors would like to thank CQ University where the data was collected and Griffith University where the analysis and write up was completed.

Conflict of interest

The authors have no conflict of interest with regards to funding or authorship.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Pam D. McGrath
    • 1
    • 2
  • Barbara Hartigan
    • 3
  • Hamish Holewa
    • 4
  • Maryanne Skarparis
    • 3
  1. 1.International Program of Psycho-Social Health Research (IPP-SHR), Centre of National Research on Disability and Rehabilitation Medicine, Griffith Health InstituteGriffith UniversityMeadowbrookAustralia
  2. 2.KenmoreAustralia
  3. 3.Leukaemia Foundation of QueenslandSouth BrisbaneAustralia
  4. 4.Research Associate, Institute of Health and Social ScienceCQUniversityBrisbaneAustralia

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