Work is important for patients diagnosed with cancer. The aim of this study is to assess the perceived importance of work and work ability shortly after diagnosis of patients with gastrointestinal cancer.Methods
In a multicentre randomised controlled trial with a follow-up of twelve months, participants aged 18–63 years, diagnosed with a curative primary gastrointestinal cancer and employed at the time of diagnosis, were included. The participants were randomised to usual care or the intervention group, which encompassed tailored work-related support. Both groups filled out a baseline questionnaire with questions on importance of work (VAS score 0 not important-100 most important) and WAI questions: general work ability (0–5 low work ability and 6–10 moderate to good work ability), physical- and mental work ability (5 point scale from very bad to very good).Preliminary results
At baseline 87 participants filled out the questionnaire, 66% of them were male with a mean age of 55 years. The majority was diagnosed with colon cancer (64%) or rectal cancer (21%). Participants scored the importance of work at moment of completion the baseline questionnaire shortly after diagnosis with a mean of 49.9 (SD 29.1). 54% of the participants scored their general work ability as moderate to good. The physical work ability was scored as very bad (2.3%), bad (16.6%), mediocre (34.5%), good (33.3%) and very good (13.8%), while mental work ability was scored worse respectively; bad (27.6%), mediocre (27.6%), good (33.3%) and very good (11.5%).Discussion
Half of the participants scored their work as (very) important at time of diagnosis. Half of the participants scored their work ability as moderate to good, their physical work ability was better than their mental work ability The participants need tailored support early in their cancer treatment process, in which the occupational physician and oncological nurse should be involved.