Return to Work after Beating Cancer Project

Date: 14 October 2014

In the UK in 2011 there were 331,000 people diagnosed with cancer. This equates to around 910 people being diagnosed every day (Cancer Research UK, 2014).  In relation to cancer survival half of people now survive their disease for at least 10 years (Cancer Research UK, 2014). These numbers are also set to increase with the number of people alive and more than 5 years from initial diagnosis predicted to more than double to 2.7 million in 2030 (Maddams et al, 2012). While this is very positive in relation to cancer treatment, this does bring new challenges for those involved in supporting employees return to work and managing workplace risk.

The Institute of Occupational Medicine (IOM) is currently carrying out a project funded by IOSH to examine occupational safety and health issues surrounding return to work for people who have been treated for cancer.

The objectives of the research project are:

  • To understand the health and safety implications of returning to work after cancer
  • To identify what employers can do to facilitate return to work and what is best practice in dealing with health and safety issues for cancer suffers returning to work.
  • To develop guidance to support employers implement appropriate adjustments for cancer sufferers and support measures to manage health and safety issues relating to their return to work.

The research is being undertaken in three stages: a systematic review, case studies and the development of guidance material. At the current stage we are recruiting for the case studies. We are looking to recruit ten organisations that have experience of managing return to work after cancer.

Once recruited we would then like to interview stakeholders in the company responsible for the management of return to work (e.g. employers, occupational health professionals, HR and line managers).

Interviews will ask about organisational practice around health and safety including:

  • Aspects of return to work, work adjustment management, the roles of those involved and when they become involved;
  • Awareness of health and safety issues associated with cancer and cancer treatment;
  • Details of any health and safety risks identified;
  • Details of the processes undertaken;
  • Perceived cost to the organisation;
  • Work adjustments offered to employees in relation to job role, potential on-going health problems and health and safety risks; and
  • Perceived ease/difficulty and effectiveness of implementing advice and obtaining information on the topic of return to work after cancer.

Each participating organisation will be asked to identify at least one case of an employee in cancer remission and after obtaining consent, we would like to interview the employee to obtain information about their experiences of returning to work.

The results of the case studies will be collated in to examples of best practice in managing return to work and how to manage the hazards associated with returning to work in the specific organisations studied.

If you would like further information about the project including how to get involved, please contact:

Joanne Crawford at joanne.crawford@iom-world.org or via telephone on 0131 449 8037 or Alice Davis at Alice.davis@iom-world.org or via telephone on 0131 449 8042

Dr Joanne Crawford is leading the research team at IOM (Prof Damien McElvenny, Dr Anne Sleeuwenhoek, Alice Davis and Ken Dixon) and will be working with colleagues from Loughborough University School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences (Dr Fehmidah Munir and Dr Hilary McDermott) and Affinity Health at Work (Emma Donaldson-Feilder).

Back to news listing

Search This Section: