Background: For employed cancer survivors, returning to work and maintaining employment is an important aspect of their quality of life. We developed an intervention aimed at enhancing this by means of (a) providing the patient with an educational leaflet on return to work and (b) enhancing communication between attending and occupational physicians. The purpose of this study is to test the feasibility of this intervention and to examine the relation of patient adherence to the advice of the leaflet and return to work.
Methods: A patient series of 35 employed cancer survivors was used to evaluate the intervention. Survivors completed a baseline questionnaire prior to their treatment. Survivors and occupational physicians were interviewed by telephone eight weeks following all curative treatment. Our measure of feasibility included satisfaction of survivors with the intervention, adherence to the advice, time to return to work, satisfaction of occupational physicians with the intervention, and perceived influence on their rehabilitation efforts.
Results: Interviews of 26 survivors and 24 occupational physicians, revealed that those groups perceived the leaflet as useful (i.e., 7 on a 0-10 scale. Also seven out of ten suggestions in the leaflet was adhered to and half of the occupational physicians perceived the guidance they provided was helpful. However there was no effect of level of adherence on actual return to work.
Conclusion: This pilot study demonstrated the feasibility of the approach used. However level of adherence to educational leaflet was not associated with an improvement in return to work in cancer survivors.