Cancer survivorship and return to work: UK occupational health physician experience

Ziv Amir, Philip Wynn, Stuart Whitaker, Karen Luker

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Background: Survivorship following diagnosis of cancer is increasing in prevalence. However, cancer survivors continue to report difficulty re-entering the workplace after diagnosis and treatment. Aims: To survey UK occupational health physicians (OHPs) regarding their role in rehabilitation of employed survivors of cancer. Methods: Following a pilot study, a questionnaire exploring opinions of OHPs regarding supporting cancer survivors' return to work was posted to all members of the UK Society of Occupational Medicine, with a repeat posting 2 months later. Responses were analyzed for significant correlations with OHP age, sex, qualification level, size of businesses advised and years of experience. Results: There were 797 respondents (response rate 51%). Responses suggested opportunities for developing the knowledge base in relation to prognosis and functional outcomes in patients with a cancer diagnosis; instituting information resources on cancer and work for OHPs and developing communications skills training. Most respondents felt managers treated referral to occupational health (OH) differently for employees with cancer compared with management referral for employees with other diagnoses, with 45% of respondents indicating referral may take place too late to be effective in securing a return to work. A significant lack of understanding of the information requirements of employers and the role of OH by treating doctors was identified. Conclusions: This survey raises several possible significant barriers to return to work by cancer survivors. Recommendations to ameliorate these are made. © The Author 2008. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society of Occupational Medicine. All rights reserved.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)390-396
    Number of pages7
    JournalOccupational Medicine
    Issue number6
    Publication statusPublished - 2009


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