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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Radical prostatectomy and work : men's perspectives Yu Ko, Wellam F.


The objective of this study was to explore the connections between men’s experiences of work, prostate cancer and radical prostatectomy to develop a grounded theory that describes the processes used by participants to reformulate the worker identity. The research questions that guided the study were:1.How does screening and diagnosis of prostate cancer affect men and their work? and 2. How are participants’ work-related experiences affected following radical prostatectomy? Digitally recorded, in-depth, individual interviews were conducted with 24 English speaking men who were working at the time of prostate cancer diagnosis and subsequently underwent radical prostatectomy. Constructivist grounded theory guided collection and analysis of the data. A masculinities framework highlighted the ways in which gender shaped participants’ experiences. Findings suggest that work was central to participants’ masculine identities and was an activity that benefited men and their families. Related to this, finding prostate cancer emerged as a threat to most men’s health and work, and a stark reminder of their mortality. Choosing radical prostatectomy was viewed as necessary in treating the disease to ensure survival. In preparing the workplace for their absence due to surgery, men made sick leave arrangements with the aim of minimizing disruptions to workplace productivity. The basic social process of Reformulating the Worker Identity after radical prostatectomy was developed. Results indicate that men reformulated worker identities to accommodate treatment side-effects and challenges for fully resuming work responsibilities. This process comprised two parts. First, recovering after radical prostatectomy allowed men to restore physical strength to resume daily activities through processes that included embodying the sick role, contesting side-effects, and conceding new realities wherein men drew on masculine ideals of resilience and responsibility for solving one’s problems, and by reconciling the changes surgery had imposed on their lives. Second, in re-negotiating work expectations, men adjusted work responsibilities to facilitate their return to work by assessing work capacity, re-balancing work and health, and re-setting work obligations, wherein men reevaluated the importance of work in relation to emergent health needs and lobbied for return to work accommodations needed to sustain ongoing recovery.

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