Introduction Employees with cancer consider return to work (RTW) a key aspect of cancer survivorship. Employers are in the position to guide employees with cancer, but also express a need for support. The objective of this study is therefore to identify employer-related barriers and facilitators for work participation of employees with cancer, from the perspective of both employers and employees with cancer, and to synthesise these to understand their perceived consequences.
Methods A systematic review of qualitative studies focussing on perspectives of employers and employees with cancer on work participation of employees with cancer was performed. Four databases (MEDLINE, EMBASE, PsycINFO, Business Source Premier) were systematically searched. The CASP checklist was used to assess the quality of included studies. Perceived barriers and facilitators were extracted and synthesised to conduct a content analysis.
Result Five studies representing the employers’ perspectives and 47 studies representing perspectives of employees with cancer were included. Employees with cancer perceived barriers and facilitators related to support, communication, work environment, discrimination and perception of work ability. Employers perceived barriers and facilitators related to support, communication, RTW policies, knowledge about cancer, balancing interests and roles, and attitudes. Synthesis showed that the employers’ willingness to support can be understood by: their perceptions of the employee with cancer, their goals, and national and organisational policies. The employers’ ability to support is related to their knowledge about cancer and the (availability of) RTW policies.
Discussion A large variety of perceived employer-related barriers and facilitators for work participation of employees with cancer were identified, underlining the importance and complexity of the role of the employer. The perceived barriers and facilitators were understood to be related to both employers’ willingness and ability to support. There is a need for RTW interventions targeting employers, to enhance the sustainable work participation of employees with cancer
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