The effectiveness of strategies targeting professional integration and reintegration strongly depends on the experiences of participants. The aim of this systematic literature review is to synthesize European qualitative studies exploring views and experiences of persons with chronic conditions regarding strategies for integration and reintegration into work. The systematic search was conducted in Medline, PsycINFO, CDR-HTA, CDR-DARE and Cochrane Systematic Reviews. Overall, 24 studies published in English between January 2011 and April 2016 were included. Most studies were carried out in Nordic countries or in the UK, and most participants were persons with either mental or musculoskeletal disorders. Ten themes emerged: individual and holistic approach, clarity of strategy and processes, timing of rehabilitation processes, experience with professionals, at the workplace and with peer groups, changes in the understanding of health and work, active involvement in the process, competencies development and motivating aspects of work. Findings highlight, among others, the need to actively involve participants in the return to work process and to provide timely and clearly structured processes and interventions. This review provides stakeholders key information to develop, plan, implement and evaluate interventions to integrate and re-integrate persons with chronic conditions into work in Europe.
Keywords: chronic disease; employment; qualitative studies; systematic review.