Baseline characteristics in female cancer patients with unimproved work status after an outpatient rehabilitation program and health changes during the intervention


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Purpose To improve work ability and health-related quality of life (HRQOL) cancer patients were offered a “Rapid-Return to Work” program. However, several patients did not improve their work status after completing the program. The first aim of this study was to identify the proportion of patients with unimproved work status 6 months after the program (follow-up). The second aim was to identify baseline characteristics associated with unimproved work status and the third aim to measure changes in HRQOL from baseline to follow-up in the unimproved compared to the improved group. Methods The program consisted of patient education, group discussions and physical activity during a full day weekly for 7 weeks. All patients completed a questionnaire at baseline and follow-up, covering demographic-, cancer-related-, co-morbidity and lifestyle variables, HRQOL (EORTC QLQ-C30) and fatigue (Fatigue Questionnaire). Results 106 female cancer patients completed the program and responded to the follow-up. Thirty-six percent had unimproved work status. Patients in the unimproved group more frequently were in paired relations and had more fatigue at baseline than the improved group. Whereas patients in the improved group increased in 14 of 19 HRQOL parameters, the unimproved group increased in seven of these parameters. Both groups experienced improvement concerning fatigue. Conclusion After the program more than one third of the participants did not improve their work status. Patients in paired relations and with more fatigue at baseline were more likely to have unimproved work status. Those within the unimproved group experienced less improvement in HRQOL parameters during the program than those in the improved group.




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