Interventions to enhance return-to-work for cancer patients

AGEM de Boer, Taina Taskila, SJ Tamminga, MHW Frings-Dresen, M Feuerstein, JH Verbeek

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview article


    Background Cancer survivors are 1.4 times more likely to be unemployed than healthy people. It is therefore important to provide cancer patients with programmes to support the return-to-work process. Objectives To evaluate the effectiveness of interventions aimed at enhancing return-to-work in cancer patients. Search strategy We searched the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL, in The Cochrane Library Issue 2, 2010), MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, OSH-ROM, PsycINFO, DARE, ClinicalTrials. gov, and to February 2010, reference lists of included articles and selected reviews, and contacted authors of relevant articles. Selection criteria Randomised controlled trials (RCTs) and controlled before-after studies (CBAs) of the effectiveness of psychological, vocational, physical, medical or multidisciplinary interventions enhancing return-to-work in cancer patients. The primary outcome was return-to-work measured as either return-to-work rate or sick leave duration. Secondary outcome was quality of life. Data collection and analysis Two authors independently selected trials, assessed the risk of bias and extracted data. We pooled studies with sufficient data, judged to be clinically homogeneous in different comparisons. We assessed the overall quality of the evidence for each comparison using the GRADE approach. Main results Fourteen articles reporting 14 RCTs and 4 CBAs were included. These studies involved a total of 1652 participants. Results indicated low quality evidence of similar return-to-work rates for psychological interventions compared to care as usual (odds ratio (OR) = 2.32, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.94 to 5.71). No vocational interventions were retrieved. Very low evidence suggested that physical training was not more effective than care as usual on improving return-to-work (OR = 1.20, 95% CI 0.32 to 4.54). Eight RCTs on medical interventions showed low quality evidence that functioning conserving approaches had similar return-to-work rates as more radical treatments (OR = 1.53, 95% CI 0.95 to 2.45). Moderate quality evidence showed multidisciplinary interventions involving physical, psychological and vocational components led to higher return-to-work rates than care as usual (OR = 1.87, 95% CI 1.07 to 3.27). No differences in the effect of psychological, physical, medical or multidisciplinary interventions compared to care as usual were found on quality of life outcomes. Authors' conclusions Moderate quality evidence showed that employed patients with cancer experience return-to-work benefits from multidisciplinary interventions compared to care as usual. More high quality RCTs aimed at enhancing return-to-work in cancer patients are needed.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)CD007569
    JournalCochrane Database of Systematic Reviews
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2011


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