Effectiveness of Physical Activity Interventions on Return to Work After a Cancer Diagnosis: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

J Occup Rehabil. 2023 Mar;33(1):4-19. doi: 10.1007/s10926-022-10052-9. Epub 2022 Jul 2.


Purpose The aim of this study was to assess the effectiveness of physical activity (PA) interventions on return to work (RTW) in cancer survivors, compared to usual care, and to determine the dose of PA needed to improve this outcome. Methods A systematic review and meta-analysis were conducted according to PRISMA guidelines. Six electronic databases including PubMed, Embase, Web of Science, CENTRAL, PsycINFO, and Scopus were searched to identify studies, and completed by a search of grey literature and health organization websites. Two authors performed screening, selection, and data extraction independently. Study and intervention characteristics were extracted and summarized. Pooled risk ratio (RR) was estimated using a weight random-effects model with 95% confidence intervals (CIs). Results A total of 2655 records were identified, of which 8 intervention studies were included. The sample size of the included studies varied between 41 and 240, giving a total of 1087 participants aged between 18 and 75 years. Compared with usual care, PA interventions had a significant positive effect on RTW among cancer survivors with a pooled RR of 1.29 (95% CI 1.17, 1.42). We found that PA interventions (aerobic and resistance exercises) with an exercise dose between 7.6 METs.h/week and 15 METs.h/week, consisting in 50-60 min per session of moderate to vigorous physical exercise, twice a week seems relevant in improving RTW. Conclusions Our results showed, with moderate quality evidence that PA interventions are more effective than usual care in increasing the rate of RTW in cancer survivors. SYSTEMATIC REVIEW REGISTRATION: PROSPERO Registration Number, CRD42020203614.

Keywords: Cancer; Intervention; Physical activity; Return to work; Systematic review.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review
  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cancer Survivors*
  • Exercise
  • Exercise Therapy
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms*
  • Return to Work
  • Young Adult