Return to work after aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage

Front Neurol. 2024 Apr 30:15:1401493. doi: 10.3389/fneur.2024.1401493. eCollection 2024.


Introduction: Survivors of aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage (aSAH) often recover without severe physical or cognitive deficits. However, strikingly low levels of engagement in productive employment have also been reported in aSAH patients with good or excellent outcomes. Knowledge about return to work (RTW) after aSAH and predictors of no RTW remain limited and controversial. The study aimed to delineate the return to maximum work capacity up to 5 years after the ictus in a larger number of consecutive aSAH patients from the entire aSAH severity spectrum and to identify demographic and medical predictors of no RTW.

Methods: Data were acquired from a prospective institutional database. We included all 500 aSAH survivors aged > 18 years who were treated between January 2012 and March 2018. In addition to gathering data on work status and the type of work at ictus, we retrieved demographical data and assessed aSAH severity based on the quantification of subarachnoid, intraventricular, and intraparenchymal blood (ICH), as well as the World Federation of Neurological Societies (WFNS) grade. We registered the mode of aneurysm repair (endovascular or surgical) and recorded complications such as vasospasm, newly acquired cerebral infarctions, and chronic hydrocephalus.

Results: Furthermore, work status and the grade of fatigue at follow-up were registered. RTW was assessed among 299 patients who were employed at ictus. Among them, 63.2% were women, and their age was 51.3 ± 9.4 (20-71) years. Return to gainful employment was 51.2%, with complete RTW accounting for 32.4%. The independent predictors of no RTW at ictus were age, the WFNS grade 3, and active smoking. The strongest independent predictor was the presence of clinically significant fatigue, which increased the risk of not returning to work by 5-fold. The chance to return to gainful employment significantly increased with the individual's years of education prior to their hemorrhage. The mode of aneurysm repair was not relevant with regard to RTW. Patients in the WFNS grades 1-2 more often returned to work than those in the WFNS grades 3-5, but our results indicate that neurological motor deficits are linked closer to no RTW than aSAH severity per se.

Conclusion: Fatigue needs to be addressed as an important element on the path to return to work integration.

Keywords: aneurysm repair; aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage; fatigue; long term follow-up; outcome; poor grade aneurysmal SAH; return to work.

Grants and funding

The author(s) declare that financial support was received for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article. EW received funding from SveaNor Fastigheter AB, Haugans Hus Invest AS, and Hathon Holding AS. None of the funding sources had any role in the study design, conduct of the study, collection, management, analysis, or interpretation of the data, nor in the preparation, review or approval of the manuscript.