‘Nobody can take the stress away from me’: a qualitative study on experiences of partners of patients with cancer regarding their work and health

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Abstract

Purpose: To explore experienced health- and work-related problems of partners of patients with cancer, and their needs for support. Materials and methods: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with Dutch partners of patients with cancer. Interviews were transcribed verbatim. Data were analysed thematically, following the six steps of Braun & Clarke. Results: Of 20 included partners (mean age: 50 years [31–63]), 60% was female. Five themes consistently emerged from the data: 1) overwhelming chaos calls for taking control; 2) impact of prolonged stress; 3) flexibility and support of the employer are crucial; 4) coping with family and friends is a delicate matter; and 5) support from healthcare professionals is needed, but not a given. Conclusions: Findings from this study show that the burden on partners of patients with cancer is substantial and cannot be overlooked. The state of survival mode that partners get into during the diagnosis, treatment and follow-up of their loved ones can have various implications on their physical and mental health, and work situation. Given this high burden and as legislation for care leave from work and (health care) support for partners appear to be insufficiently in place in the Dutch context, there is a need for better-targeted support for partners of patients with cancer. Implications for Rehabilitation The survival mode that partners of patients with cancer get into during the diagnosis, treatment and follow-up of their loved ones can have various implications on their physical and mental health, and work situation. This study showed that the burden on partners of patients with cancer is substantial and cannot be overlooked. Given this high burden and because legislation for care leave from work and (health care) support for partners appears to be insufficiently in place in the Dutch context, there is a need for better-targeted support for partners of patients with cancer.
Original languageEnglish
JournalDisability and Rehabilitation
Early online date2022
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2022

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