PURPOSE: This qualitative study aimed to identify hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) survivors' (1) work perceptions; (2) barriers to and facilitators of return to work (RTW); and (3) possible solutions to improve RTW.
METHOD: Fifteen patients treated with HSCT 1-5 years ago participated in face-to-face semi-structured interviews. Interviews were analyzed following the steps of thematic content analyses.
RESULTS: RTW was often characterized as a complex and prolonged trajectory, and it was frequently incomplete in working hours, tasks, and/or responsibilities. Work perceptions varied between patients; most valued work as positive, but some also reported a decline in work capacity and/or in importance. Perceived barriers included the duration and side effects of cancer treatment, the presence of comorbidity and poor health before diagnosis, having difficulties commuting and doing household tasks. Perceived facilitators were financial incentives, keeping in touch with the workplace, support of other patients and family, and looking after one's health. Proposed solutions to improve RTW included discussing RTW at the hospital, enhanced employer support, improved accessibility of rehabilitation programs, and more information about the consequences of being sick-listed.
CONCLUSIONS: Many HSCT survivors value work as important and they are motivated to RTW. Insight in work perceptions, RTW barriers, and solutions might help researchers, healthcare professionals, and employers to develop and/or tailor individualized multidisciplinary care to facilitate RTW.