Helping cancer survivors return to work
A new Psycho-Oncology analysis of published studies indicates that there are various employer-related factors that can help or hinder cancer survivors as they attempt to go back to work.
The analysis included five studies representing the employers' perspectives and 47 studies representing the cancer survivors' perspectives.
The diversity of the perceived barriers and facilitators related to employer support highlighted in the study indicates the complexity of giving cancer survivors adequate support. In addition, some perceptions of cancer survivors regarding employer support seemed contradictory–for example, survivors mentioned both the need to be supported and the need to be treated normally in the workplace. Also, some survivors perceived an employer who updated colleagues about their sickness as a facilitator, while others perceived such an employer as hindering their work participation.
The investigators noted that, to enhance the work participation of cancer survivors, interventions should therefore not have a 'one-size-fits-all' approach, but should be adjusted to survivors' individual preferences and requirements. To achieve this, effective employer-survivor communication seems to be a prerequisite.
"This study indicates that employers require certain knowledge and skills to support cancer survivors. This is a useful step towards the development of practical interventions to support employers to fulfill their important and complex role, in order to optimise the return to work of cancer survivors," said Dr. Michiel Greidanus, lead author of the study.