This study explores the sociodemographic, medical and work-related factors leading to a participation in an in-house rehabilitation measure after primary treatment for breast cancer.
The prospective multi-center study is based on a written survey with employed breast cancer patients who were recruited at 11 breast cancer centers in Lower Saxony, Germany. Predictors of participation were examined by logistic regression, predictors of the time period before starting the rehabilitation by linear regression.
409 patients returned their questionnaires at all three time-points. Response rates were 80,1 % 3 weeks after surgery (t0), 95,2 % 6 months after surgery (t1) and 89,9 % one year after surgery (t2). Altogether, 294 patients (72 %) participated in the rehabilitation measure. Respondents, 90 % of whom participated in rehabilitation before returning to work, began their rehabilitation on average 21 weeks after primary surgery. They showed an increased probability of participation if they had indicated the need to clarify their job situation (OR=2,74, p<0,01), or if their answers displayed a detrimental relation between effort and reward at work (OR=3,89, p<0,05). At the same time, higher age, a higher level of school education (OR=4,23) and reduced physical health (OR=0,94, p<0,01) increased the chance for breast cancer patients to take part in oncological rehabilitation. The starting point of rehabilitation was only predictable by medical treatments: adjuvant chemotherapy (β=0,492, p≤0,001), additional surgery (β=0,112, p<0,05), and radiation therapy within the second half year after primary surgery (β=0,20; p<0,001) led to a postponement.
This study shows that an increased need of breast cancer patients for medical and socio-psychological support leads to their participation in an in-house rehabilitation and thus underlines the necessity of these institutions. Women with an impaired psychological health should be given extra attention.