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Return-to-Work Guidance and Support for Colorectal Cancer Patients: A Feasibility Study

Bains, Manpreet PhD; Munir, Fehmidah PhD; Yarker, Joanna PhD; Steward, Will PhD, FRCP; Thomas, Anne PhD, MD

doi: 10.1097/NCC.0b013e31820a4c68
Articles: Online Only

Background: Many cancer patients and survivors experience impairments in their ability to work as a result of diagnosis and treatment. Although the literature demonstrates favorable return-to-work rates, there is a lack of intervention studies that have sought to enhance reemployment and return-to-work outcomes.

Objective: The purpose of this study was to test the feasibility of an intervention designed to offer brief tailored information on work ability during treatment to colorectal cancer patients.

Methods: Thirteen employed colorectal cancer patients were recruited to test the feasibility of the intervention. Participants were provided with an educational leaflet and a face-to-face return-to-work consultation. This included advice and guidance on managing symptoms at work, communication with employer, and information on work ability during and after treatment. This was tailored according to work type (manual/nonmanual).

Results: Most participants found key aspects of the intervention useful. In particular, information and advice on the impact of treatment upon work ability were considered most valuable. Although levels of work ability and well-being did not change during the intervention, there were trends of improvement in the data.

Conclusions: This study demonstrated that the content of this intervention could aid return to work.

Implications for Practice: Most participants felt that specialist cancer nurses and consultants were best placed to deliver return-to-work interventions. Although cancer nurses provide patients with a significant amount of information at diagnosis and treatment, our findings suggest that raising employment matters early on could help identify the most suitable time to deliver a return-to-work intervention.

Background: Many cancer patients and survivors experience impairments in their ability to work as a result of diagnosis and treatment. Although the literature demonstrates favorable return-to-work rates, there is a lack of intervention studies that have sought to enhance reemployment and return-to-work outcomes. Objective: The purpose of this study was to test the feasibility of an intervention designed to offer brief tailored information on work ability during treatment to colorectal cancer patients. Methods: Thirteen employed colorectal cancer patients were recruited to test the feasibility of the intervention. Participants were provided with an educational leaflet and a face-to-face return-to-work consultation. This included advice and guidance on managing symptoms at work, communication with employer, and information on work ability during and after treatment. This was tailored according to work type (manual/nonmanual). Results: Most participants found key aspects of the intervention useful. In particular, information and advice on the impact of treatment upon work ability were considered most valuable. Although levels of work ability and well-being did not change during the intervention, there were trends of improvement in the data. Conclusions: This study demonstrated that the content of this intervention could aid return to work. Implications for Practice: Most participants felt that specialist cancer nurses and consultants were best placed to deliver return-to-work interventions. Although cancer nurses provide patients with a significant amount of information at diagnosis and treatment, our findings suggest that raising employment matters early on could help identify the most suitable time to deliver a return-to-work intervention.

Author Affiliations: Division of Epidemiology and Public Health, University of Nottingham (Dr Bains); School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences, Loughborough University (Dr Munir); Department of Psychology, Goldsmiths, University of London (Dr Yarker); Department of Cancer Studies and Molecular Medicine, University of Leicester, Leicester Royal Infirmary (Professor Steward); and Department of Oncology, Leicester Royal Infirmary (Dr Thomas), United Kingdom.

The authors have no funding or conflicts of interest to disclose.

Correspondence: Manpreet Bains, PhD, Division of Epidemiology and Public Health, Clinical Sciences Building, City Hospital Campus, Nottingham, NG5 1PB, United Kingdom (manpreet.bains@nottingham.ac.uk).

Accepted for publication December 6, 2010.

© 2011 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.