Enhancing the return to work of cancer survivors: Development and evaluation of an intervention targeted at employers

Research output: PhD ThesisPhd-Thesis - Research and graduation internal


Work is one of the main pillars of cancer survivorship, but still approximately 40% of cancer survivors are not able to return to work within a year of diagnosis. Employers play a vital role in guiding employed cancer survivors during their sickness absence and return to work (RTW), but regard the guidance of cancer survivors as difficult to manage. The aim of this thesis was to develop and pilot test an intervention (called the MiLES intervention) targeting the employer that enhances the successful RTW of cancer survivors.
The thesis identified the most important employer actions and the support needs of employers in guiding employed cancer survivors during their sickness absence and RTW. On this basis, the MiLES intervention was developed, which is a web-based intervention with succinct, tailored tips and information, communication videos and conversation checklists. Employers perceived the intervention to be a useful tool that well suits their daily practice. However, whether the intervention is actually effective in enhancing the successful RTW of cancer survivors cannot be concluded on the basis of the studies presented in the thesis.
The thesis also revealed that, according to cancer survivors, a successful RTW comprises more than just returning to the workplace. Therefore, an outcome measure that incorporates cancer survivors’ perspectives on what is perceived as successful RTW was developed: the Successful Return-To-Work Questionnaire for Cancer Survivors (I-RTW_CS). The I-RTW_CS enables an in-depth evaluation of a cancer survivor’s RTW, taking into account individual perspectives on a successful RTW.
The thesis concluded that employers are an important link in the RTW process of cancer survivors, but need to be supported to fulfill this role. The MiLES intervention provides employers a promising tool to enhance successful RTW of cancer survivors.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • University of Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • Dresen, Monique, Supervisor
  • de Rijk, A. E., Supervisor, External person
  • Tamminga, Sietske, Co-supervisor
  • de Boer, Angela, Co-supervisor
Award date12 Feb 2021
Print ISBNs9789464212044
Publication statusPublished - 2021

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