Tailoring work participation support for cancer survivors using the stages of change: perspectives of (health care) professionals and survivors

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: Interventions to support work participation in cancer survivors (CSs) have shown limited effectiveness. Applying a behavioral change framework (e.g., stages of change) could make work participation interventions for CSs more timely and tailored. We aimed to explore the application of the stages of change framework to work participation support for CSs and to generate stage-specific intervention content. Methods: Eighteen experts (e.g., occupational physicians, reintegration consultants) were individually interviewed, and three focus groups with CSs (n = 6, n = 5, n = 4) were conducted. Data were analyzed along the six work-related behavioral change stages purported by the readiness for return to work framework, which is based on the stages of change. Results: The following themes were identified: (1) pre-contemplation: emotional support and staying connected—encourage contact with the employer/colleagues; (2) contemplation: considering return to work is stressful—facilitate the deliberation process; (3) preparation self-evaluative: assess current capabilities—seek guidance from, e.g., occupational physicians; (4) preparation behavioral: planning return to work—allow for personalized solutions and encourage supervised return to work; (5) uncertain maintenance: guard against overload—train self-efficacy strategies and communication tactics; and (6) proactive maintenance: accept and prepare for the long term. Conclusions: Our results support the potential utility of tailoring CSs’ work participation support along the stages of change. Implications for Cancer Survivors: We provided recommendations for intervention content and developed a stage-specific work participation intervention for CSs, the effectiveness of which will be evaluated in an upcoming randomized controlled trial.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Cancer Survivorship
Early online date2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2022


  • Cancer survivors
  • Return to work
  • Stages of change
  • Work retention

Cite this