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Original languageEnglish
Article numbere75
Number of pages10
JournalJMIR research protocols
Publication statusPublished - 3 May 2016


Background: Returning to, and staying in, work following illness is associated with better physical and psychological functioning. Not working has been shown to be associated with reduced self-esteem, lowered self-efficacy and decreased belief in one's ability to return to the workplace. Although there is a growing body of research looking at what predicts return to work following cancer treatment, there are fewer studies examining interventions targeting return to work. Objective: The primary objective is to assess the feasibility and acceptability of a theoretically-led workbook intervention designed to support cancer patients in returning to work, to inform a fully-powered randomised controlled trial. Methods: This is a multi-centre feasibility randomised controlled trial, where the main analysis utilises a qualitative approach. Sixty participants (aged 18-65 years) who have received a diagnosis of cancer and who intend to return to work will be randomised into either the WorkPlan intervention group or a usual care group (ratio 1:1). Participants in the intervention group will receive a guided workbook (which contains activities aimed at eliciting thoughts and beliefs, identifying targets and actions and concrete steps to achieve goals) and will receive telephone support over a four week period. The primary outcome measure is time taken to return to work (in days), and secondary outcome measures include mood, quality of life, illness perceptions and job satisfaction. Data will be collected through postal questionnaires administered immediately post-intervention and at 6 and 12 month follow-ups. In addition, interviews will be undertaken immediately post-intervention (to explore acceptability of the intervention and materials) and at 12 month follow-up (to explore perceptions of participation in the trial and experiences of returning to work). Discussion: Currently no standardised return to work intervention based on targeting cancer patients’ beliefs is in existence. If shown to be feasible and acceptable the results will inform a future full randomised controlled trial and has the potential to provide a valuable and cost-efficient tool in supporting cancer survivors in the return to work process. Trial Registration: International Standard Randomized Controlled Trial Number (ISRCTN): ISRCTN56342476


© 2016 Pernille Luxhøj Woods, Lauren Schumacher, Steven S Sadhra, Andrew J Sutton, Anjali Zarkar, Pauline Rolf, Elizabeth A Grunfeld. Originally published in JMIR Research Protocols (, 03.05.2016. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work, first published in JMIR Research Protocols, is properly cited. The complete bibliographic information, a link to the original publication on, as well as this copyright and license information must be included.

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