Introduction Employees with cancer experience difficulties returning to work. Employers play an essential role during return to work (RTW) of employees with cancer, but current RTW interventions pay little attention to the employer. Adequate employer support might be the missing link for successful RTW of employees with cancer. The purpose of this project is therefore to optimise RTW of employees with cancer, by supporting employers.
Methods An online intervention for employers was developed using the Intervention Mapping approach. Firstly, a needs assessment was conducted; the role and support needs of employers during RTW of employees with cancer were assessed (interviews with 30 Dutch employers) and employer-related perceived barriers and facilitators for work participation of employees with cancer were identified (systematic review) and prioritised (delphi study). Secondly, the objectives of the intervention were specified, practical strategies were chosen, based on interviews with e-health experts, and the online intervention was developed.
Result RTW of employees with cancer requires tailored support from the employer and specific employer/employee communication during different phases:
disclosure of cancer,
absence employee during treatment,
no return. The review included five and 47 studies representing the employers’ and employees’ perspectives, respectively.
The identified barriers and facilitators were prioritised by 22 employers and 26 employees with cancer. Subsequently, an online toolbox with ‘to-the-point’ and tailored support for employers is developed.
Discussion RTW of employees with cancer is a complex trajectory, during which employers play an important role and express a need for support. By involving employers and experts during its development, the online toolbox is expected to fit employers’ needs, be feasible in practice and contribute to a successful RTW of employees with cancer. The online toolbox will be evaluated on feasibility in a pilot-RCT with ±65 pairs of employer/employee with cancer.
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