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J Occup Rehabil. 2019 Jul 11. doi: 10.1007/s10926-019-09846-1. [Epub ahead of print]

Supporting the Return to Work After Cancer in Romania: Exploring Employers' Perspectives.

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Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, Lucian Blaga University of Sibiu, 10 Victoriei Blvd, 550024, Sibiu, Romania.
Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, Lucian Blaga University of Sibiu, 10 Victoriei Blvd, 550024, Sibiu, Romania.
Department of Public Health - Faculty of Political, Administrative and Communication Sciences, Babes-Bolyai University, 7 Pandurilor, 400576, Cluj-Napoca, Romania.


Purpose Evidence shows that employers play a key role in facilitating the return to work of employees with cancer, yet little is known about the employers' experiences in settings where no policies or regulations are available to guide this process. Against this background, we aimed (1) to understand how employers experience and manage the process of having employees with cancer and (2) to explore their reflections regarding their role in returning to work. Methods Twenty employers from various types of organisations and sectors were interviewed. Inductive thematic analysis was performed using NVivo 11. Results Employers experienced having employees with cancer as a process with three distinct phases reflected in three emerging themes: disclosure of the diagnosis and absence from work; returning to work; post-returning to work. A fourth theme emphasizes the employers' reflections on how they conceive their own role. In the absence of a normative framework for dealing with employees with cancer, employers used commonsensical rules of thumb and immediate solutions based on ad-hoc decisions and were often compelled to innovate. They offered accommodations only if requested by the employee after returning to work. The return to work process was neither planned nor phased. Conclusion Employers need information and guidelines for effectively assisting employees with cancer. Better channels of communication and collaboration with health professionals are essential for more adequate support for the long-term consequences of cancer. A detailed return to work policy is required to tackle the inconsistencies in the support offered and this policy must also rethink how diagnosis disclosure takes place in Romanian organisations.


Cancer; Employer; Qualitative research; Return to work


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