Work-focused healthcare from the perspective of employees living with cardiovascular disease: a patient experience journey mapping study

M.E. Hagendijk, N. Zipfel, Floor Oomen, J.L. Hoving, C.T.J. Hulshof, Philip Van der Wees, Marijke Melles, B.E. Colkesen, S.J. Vermeulen, Ersen B. Çölkesen

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1 Citation (Scopus)


People living with cardiovascular diseases (CVD) often experience work participation problems. Good work-focused healthcare, defined as the received advice, treatment, and guidance focusing on work participation, can support the patient and work place. However, experiences with work-focused healthcare are generally not always positive which is a barrier for work participation. Therefore, the objective of this study is to gain insight into the work-focused healthcare journey from the perspective of patients with work participation problems due to CVD, to understand their experiences and needs, and to derive opportunities for improving work-focused healthcare service at a system level.

Semi-structured interviews, preceded by preparatory assignments, were conducted with 17 patients who experience(d) work participation problems due to CVD. The patient experience journey map (PEJM) approach was used to visualize the patients’ work-focused healthcare journey, including experiences and needs over time and place, from which opportunities to improve work-focused healthcare from the patient’s perspective were derived.

An aggregated PEJM consisting of six phases was composed and graphically mapped. The first phase, working, represents a period in which CVD health problems and subsequent functional limitations occur. The next two phases, short- and long-term sick leave, represent a period of full sick leave. The last three phases, start-, partial-, and full vocational reintegration, focus on the process of return to work that takes place ranging from a few months up to several years after sick-listing. For each phase the touchpoints, timespan, stakeholders, activities, experiences and needs from the perspective of the patients were identified. Finally, for better work-focused healthcare nine opportunities for improvement were derived from the PEJM, e.g. emphasize the need for work adjustment prior to the medical intervention, provide more personalized advice on handling work limitations, and putting more compelling pressure on the employer to create suitable work positions for their employees.

This paper contributes insights to provide a more patient-centered work-focused healthcare trajectory for patients employed in paid jobs when living with CVD. The PEJM provides an understanding of the patients’ perspectives throughout their work-focused healthcare journey and highlights opportunities for improvement towards a better suited and seamless patient journey, Although this research was conducted within the Dutch healthcare system, it can be assumed that the findings on integrated work-focused healthcare are largly transferable to other healthcare systems.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1765
Pages (from-to)1
Number of pages15
JournalBMC public health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2023


  • Cardiology
  • Occupational Health
  • Occupational health services
  • Qualitative research
  • Sick leave

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