Health-Related Quality of Life and Return to Work following Breast Cancer
Sammanfattning: Aim: The overall aim of this thesis was to study health-related quality of life (HRQoL) and return to work in the first 3 years following a breast cancer diagnosis, and to identify clinical and contextual factors associated with these outcomes.Method: The four studies were part of a population-based cohort study including women identified in the Breast Cancer Quality Register in central Sweden. Of 1,573 women asked to participate, 69% (n=1,093) responded to a baseline questionnaire, 62% (n=977) responded at the 1st follow-up and 54% (n=856) participated at the 2nd follow-up (mean time 4, 16 and 38 months post-diagnosis, respectively). Studies II and IV only included women aged <63 years at diagnosis. In Study IV, each woman was individually matched to five breast-cancer-free controls. Questionnaire data on HRQoL, socio-demographics and work-related variables were combined with clinical register, normative and social insurance data.Main findings: Study I: Women with breast cancer, particularly women aged <50 years, experienced poorer HRQoL at baseline than normative data. Chemotherapy, lack of social support, sick leave and a poor financial situation were associated with poorer HRQoL. Study II: Compared with pre-diagnosis working time, 72% of participating women reported no change, 2% had increased their working time, 15% reported a decrease in working time and 11% did not work at the 1st follow-up. Chemotherapy, cancer-related work limitations and less value attached to work increased the odds of job discontinuation/decreased working time. Study III: During the 3 years post-diagnosis, HRQoL generally improved. Less consistent improvements were found among women on sick leave/disability pension pre-diagnosis and women reporting job discontinuation/decreased working time post-diagnosis. Study IV: The proportion of women with breast cancer on sick leave steadily decreased during the 3 years post-diagnosis, but they were more likely to be on sick leave than the controls. Chemotherapy, fatigue and pre-diagnosis sick days predicted sickness absence during the 2nd and 3rd year post-diagnosis.Conclusions: Most women with breast cancer gradually recover, but there are subgroups of women who may be particularly vulnerable. In a clinical setting, increased attention should be directed towards women undergoing chemotherapy, young women, women on sick leave/disability pension pre-diagnosis and women who do not return to work to the same extent as pre-diagnosis.
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