Introduction Previous research on employees with a chronic disease, including employees who have been diagnosed and treated for cancer, mainly focused on work outcomes such as absence from work, productivity and unemployment. It has been seldom taken into account how employees with a chronic disease experience their working life and how they value their work.
The concept of Quality of Working Life encompasses the subjective work experiences of working individuals. This study aimed to:
describe issues that contribute to the Quality of Working Life (QWL) of employees with a chronic physical disease, and
to identify important QWL issues of cancer survivors.
Methods A systematic literature search was conducted to identify experiences and perceptions during the working life of employees with a chronic physical disease. These experiences were synthesised into issues that contributed to their QWL. During three focus groups with 24 cancer survivors, issues contributing to their QWL were discussed.
Results An overview of 73 QWL issues was found which could be identified into five categories:
individual work perceptions including issues about enjoyment and evaluation work of life priorities;
social structure and environment containing issues about disclosure, discrimination, misunderstanding and awareness by employers and colleagues;
organisational characteristics such as communication and decision making;
job characteristics including work accommodations; and
effect of disease and treatment on work ability.
The issues discussed by cancer survivors in the focus groups included several themes including feelings, such as ‘feeling safe and familiar at work’ and work issues such as ‘working gives me structure in life’.
Discussion This study described QWL issues of employees with a chronic physical disease and of cancer survivors. These issues may function as a starting point for occupational support and evaluation of OHS studies.
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