Objective: Significant numbers of younger persons with stroke should be given the opportunity to return to work. The aim of this study was to investigate factors of importance for return to work among persons after first ever stroke, in the age range 18-55 years.
Methods: A questionnaire was sent to all persons who had experienced a first ever stroke, 18-55 years of age, registered in the Swedish national quality register for stroke care, Riks-Stroke. Of the 1068 who answered the questionnaire, 855 (539 men and 316 women) were in paid employment before their stroke, and were included in this study.
Results: Sixty-five percent returned to work and, of these, an equal proportion were men and women. Significant factors associated with return to work were the perceived importance of work (odds ratio (OR) 5.10), not perceiving themselves as a burden on others (OR 3.33), support from others for return to work (OR 3.66), retaining the ability to run a short distance (OR 2.77), and higher socioeconomic codes (OR 2.12). A negative association was found between those rehabilitated in wards intended for younger persons and return to work (OR 0.37).
Conclusion: External support from others, and positive attitudes towards return to work, were factors associated with successful return to work after stroke. Contrary to what was expected, independence in personal activities of daily living and cognitive factors were not associated with return to work to the same extent as persistent higher level of physical functions, such as ability to run a short distance.