The Impact of Breast Cancer Treatment On the Meaning of Occupational Patterns In the Lifeworld of Women who Return to Paid and Unpaid Work

Tuesday, 14 July 2009: 8:50 AM

Susan M. Neville, PhD, RN
Nursing, New York Institute of Technology, Old Westbury, NY
Ellen Greer, PhD, OTR/L, LP
Occupational Therapy, New York Institute of Technology, Old Westbury, NY

Learning Objective 1: discuss and assess the meaning of selected variables related to breast cancer treatment and impact on return to work empowered with culturally contextual support strategies.

Learning Objective 2: disuss themes of cognitive impairment, self-image and self-efficacy in developing best pratices and empowerment strategies for breast cancer survivors when negotiating the world of work.

Purpose: This is the second study in an agenda of collaborative, interdisciplinary research focusing on Breast Cancer (Neville, Greer, 2008)  and the meaning ofvariables on a woman’s response to treatment and futurity embedded in cultural contexts. Occupational Patterns are the performed roles, routines and rituals that create meaning in the life world of the woman reurning to unpaid work in the home or to the paid workforce after treatment.  This phenomenological study will capture the depth of feelings, thoughts and behaviors that are part of thetreatment experience to understand the impact of these feelings on the occupational patterns of women. Methods: Women who have been diagnosed solely with Breast Cancer,  undergoning either chemotherapy treatment alone or in conjunction with surgery, radiation and/or hormone therapy treatment, and have had no recurrence since their initial diagnosis will participate in this study. Open-ended audio-taped interviews were conducted with informed consent, during which the participant were asked to describe their breast cancer treatment experience, as well as discuss their occupational patterns before and after diagnosis and treatment. Through the process of sharing and reflecting upon the experience that is unique to each woman, the profound living through of breast cancer treatment and its meaning in one’s life were identified and given voice. Results: The study’s emerging themes of cognitive impairments, changes in self-image and self-efficacy related to paid and unpaid work made it apparent that more research is needed to expand the body of knowledge required to develop and implement necessary strategies and interventions to help women negotiate the impact of breast cancer treatment.  Conclusion: This new knowledge will transform interdisciplinary evidence-based practice, identifying sensitive interventions related to the impact of Breast Cancer treatment and its meaning for the development of culturally based support and empowerment strategies for women in all phases of their lives.