Objectives With the increase of cancer survivors, there is a growing number of studies examining prognostic factors for work participation. The objective of this systematic review was to provide an overview of these studies.
Methods A literature search of prognostic studies was performed. Cohort studies were selected if the population consisted of cancer patients between 18 and 65 years of age, with work participation or equivalent concepts as main outcome measure, studying at least one prognostic factor. The methodological quality of the included studies and level of evidence for each prognostic factor were assessed.
Results In total, 16 cohort studies met the inclusion criteria. They showed considerable variety in methodological quality and assessed levels of evidence. Prognostic factors of work participation were related to type of treatment, that is, surgery and radiation therapy versus only surgery, advanced disease status, tumour site, poor overall health, heavy physical tasks in work, and low household income. To a lesser extent evidence was also found for treatment in multiple cancer sites, treatment by surgery and chemotherapy versus surgery alone. All prognostic factors were negatively associated with work participation. Employer accommodation was positively associated with work participation.
Conclusions The review shows that prognostic factors of return to work can be identified. There is a need for high quality studies exploring such prognostic factors of work participation in cancer patients and to establish the impact of these factors. Using standardised and validated instruments in assessing prognostic factors is advised.
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