Am I ready to return to work? Assisting cancer survivors to determine work readiness

TitleAm I ready to return to work? Assisting cancer survivors to determine work readiness
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsStergiou-Kita, M, Pritlove, C, Holness, DL, Kirsh, B, Van Eerd, D, Duncan, A, Jones, J
JournalJournal of Cancer Survivorship
Pagination699 - 710
Date Published2016/01/27/
RefMan ID (Library)47158

PURPOSE: A critical initial step in work re-entry involves the determination of work readiness. Cancer survivors have requested increased health care provider involvement in their work readiness decisions. However, there has been no exploration of current practices in determining work readiness, and thus no specific recommendations regarding how to assist survivors in answering the question: Am I ready to return to work? METHODS: To explore return to work following cancer and the workplace supports survivors require, we completed an exploratory qualitative study. We conducted semi-structured interviews with (i) cancer survivors (n = 16) and (ii) health care/vocational service providers (n = 16). Data were analyzed using thematic analysis. Themes specific to work readiness are discussed. RESULTS: Three key processes were deemed relevant to determining work readiness by health care providers and survivors: (1) assessing functional abilities in relation to job demands; (2) identifying survivor strengths and barriers to return to work; and (3) identifying supports available in the workplace. Challenges to work readiness determinations, were described by survivors and providers, related to: (i) the complexity of cancer, (ii) the accuracy of work readiness determinations, and (iii) the lack of established processes for addressing work goals. CONCLUSIONS: Health care providers need to work collaboratively with survivors to determine if they are physically, cognitively, and emotionally ready to return to work, and with workplaces to determine if they are prepared to provide the necessary supports. Further stakeholder collaboration is also warranted. IMPLICATIONS FOR CANCER SURVIVORS: Supports from health care providers in determining work readiness can ensure survivors do not return to work either "too early" or "too late."

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Citation Key47158