Functional impairments and workrelated outcomes in breast cancer survivors: A systematic review: A Systematic Review

Rimke Bijker, Saskia Duijts, Sherzel Smith, Han Anema, Barbara Regeer, Renée de Wildt-Liesveld

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

59 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose Work participation after breast cancer treatment is generally negatively affected. Occupational health professionals might improve work-related outcomes by bridging the gap between sick-listed employees’ levels of functioning and work demands. To aid them in this task, this review explored the association between functional impairments and work-related outcomes in breast cancer survivors. Methods Publications from January 2000–March 2016 were identified through five online databases (i.e. Pubmed, EMBASE, PsycINFO, CINAHL and the Cochrane Library). Quantitative and qualitative studies were included if they focused on functional impairments and work-related outcomes in breast cancer survivors. Two reviewers independently selected studies, extracted data and performed quality assessment. Results The search identified 998 studies, of which 20 studies met eligibility criteria. Impairments in physical functioning negatively affected return to work (RTW) and work ability in quantitative and qualitative studies. Studies measuring cognitive functioning with tests found no association with work-related outcomes, whereas the results of studies using self-reported measures were ambiguous. Social functioning was less commonly investigated and findings differed across work-related outcomes. Emotional functioning was not associated with work-related outcomes in quantitative studies, while in qualitative studies feelings such as insecurity were described as influencing RTW. Conclusions Functional impairments can severely hamper work participation in breast cancer survivors. This provides important opportunities for occupational health professionals to enhance RTW in breast cancer survivors, such as adequately addressing illness perceptions and work expectations. Ongoing research is warranted to aid occupational health professionals in providing effective vocational guidance and improve work-related outcomes in breast cancer survivors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)93-93
Number of pages23
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2017


  • Breast cancer
  • Functional impairments
  • Occupational health services
  • Return to work

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