"The only way I know how to live is to work": A qualitative study of work following treatment for prostate cancer

Elizabeth A Grunfeld, Lawrence Drudge-Coates, Lorna Rixon, Emma Eaton, Alethea F Cooper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: For many survivors of prostate cancer, returning to work posttreatment is a realistic goal. However, little research to date has explored work among prostate cancer survivors. The focus of this study was to explore the meaning of work among prostate cancer survivors and to describe the linkages between masculinity and work following prostate cancer treatment. Method: Fifty prostate cancer survivors who were in paid employment prior to their diagnosis completed a semistructured interview following completion of their treatment and of these, 41 also completed a 12-month follow-up interview. Framework analysis of the 91 transcripts was undertaken. Results: The majority of the men had returned to work at the 12-month interview. Four themes were identified, and these were labeled "Work and self-identity," "Work-related implications of treatment side effects," "Disclosure of cancer," and "Perceptions of future as a cancer survivor." A degree of embarrassment and concern about residual side effects and whether these would present a challenge within the workplace was apparent among our sample and was compounded by a reluctance to disclose these. Conclusions: The descriptions provided by the men in this study reveal that the experience of prostate cancer can lead to challenges for both social and work-related roles. The influence of prostate cancer on men's reports of masculinity was variable, and recognition of these differences is required. In addition, some survivors of prostate cancer may require specific interventions aimed at helping them to manage disclosure of their illness, particularly within a work environment. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2013 APA, all rights reserved).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)75-82
Number of pages8
JournalHealth Psychology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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