Gaps and delays in survivorship care in the return-to-work pathway for survivors of breast cancer—a qualitative study

K. Bilodeau, D. Tremblay, M.J. Durand


Introduction The number of survivors of breast cancer (bca) in Canada has steadily increased thanks to major advances in cancer care. But the resulting clientele face new challenges related to survivorship. The lack of continuity of care and the side effects of treatment affect the resumption of active life by survivors of bca, including return to work (rtw). The goal of the present article was to outline gaps and delay in survivorship care in the rtw pathway of survivors of bca.

Methods This qualitative interpretative descriptive study recruited 9 survivors of bca in the province of Quebec. Interviews were conducted at the end of cancer treatments (n = 9), 1 month before rtw (n = 9), and after rtw (n = 5). In an iterative process, a content analysis was performed.

Results The interviews highlighted gaps in survivorship care and the paucity of dedicated resources for cancer survivors. Participants received neither a survivorship care plan nor information about cancer survivorship (for example, transition to a new normal, side effects, rtw).

Conclusions Support for survivors of bca resuming their active lives has to be optimized. We suggest that health professionals have to intervene at 1, 3, and 6 months after cancer treatment. At those points, survivors of bca need support for side-effects management, the rtw decision, resource navigation, and reintegration of daily activities. Also, delay in clinical pathways seems to be longer, and much attention is needed to accompany the transition to a “normal life” after cancer.


Survivorship; health care services; return to work

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ISSN: 1198-0052 (Print) ISSN: 1718-7729 (Online)