Predictors of early retirement after cancer rehabilitation—a longitudinal study

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This longitudinal study was designed to assess patients’ desire for early retirement and investigate which cancer-related and psychosocial characteristics are associated with early retirement. We assessed 750 cancer patients at the beginning (t0) and end (t1) of, and 12 months after (t2) inpatient cancer rehabilitation. At t0, 22% had a desire to retire early. These patients reported significantly longer sick leave periods, less favourable workplace environments, lower work ability, higher psychological distress and lower quality of life than other patients. At t2, 12.5% of patients received temporary or permanent early retirement pensions. Of all patients with a desire for early retirement at t0, 43% had returned to work at t2. This subgroup had a significantly lower physical quality of life than other patients returning to work. The most influential predictors of early retirement were being on sick leave (OR = 6.50, 95% CI = 1.97-21.47) and a desire for early retirement (OR = 5.61, 95% CI = 2.73-11.52). Inverse predictors of early retirement were cancer remission (OR = 0.23, 95% CI = 0.10-0.53), perceived productivity (OR = 0.38, 95% CI = 0.18-0.83), work satisfaction (OR = 0.36, 95% CI = 0.17-0.77) and mental quality of life (OR = 0.94, 95% CI = 0.91-0.98). This underlines the need for cancer-specific multi-professional rehabilitation and occupational therapy programmes.

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