The Organisational Perspective on the Return to Work of Employees Following Treatment for Cancer

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Abstract

Introduction

Due to improved survival rates across cancer types there is an ever increasing group of cancer survivors of working age with a unique set of needs associated with living with cancer and with returning to work. Little is known about the services provided for cancer survivors or the needs of organisations in the return to work process. This study aimed to provide this information through a survey of the organisational perspective of the return to work of cancer survivors.

Methods

Questionnaires were sent to human resource or occupational health departments of 815 medium to large organisations. The questionnaire focussed on the companies' policies and procedures, their return to work services and beliefs about the experiences of cancer survivors returning to the workplace.

Results

252 organisations returned completed questionnaires (response rate 31%). 48% of respondents were unable to provide information about the number of employees diagnosed with cancer in the past 12 months. A range of return to work services was provided although only 38% provided employees with written information or guidelines about return to work policies or services. Respondents tended to view employee related factors, such as employee attitude and emotional functioning, as key to a successful return to work.

Conclusions

Organisations aim to be supportive of cancer survivors returning to the workplace and potentially offer a range of return to work services. However, employees may not be adequately informed of such services and a lack of information and clear communication may hinder a positive return to work experience.

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