Hubbard G, Gray NM, Ayansina D, Evans J & Kyle RG (2013) Case management vocational rehabilitation for women with breast cancer after surgery: a feasibility study incorporating a pilot randomised controlled trial. Trials, 14, Art. No.: 175. https://doi.org/10.1186/1745-6215-14-175
Background: There is a paucity of methodologically robust vocational rehabilitation (VR) intervention trials. This study assessed the feasibility and acceptability of a VR trial of women with breast cancer to inform the development of a larger interventional study.
Methods: Women were recruited in Scotland and randomised to either a case management VR service or to usual care. Data were collected on eligibility, recruitment and attrition rates to assess trial feasibility, and interviews conducted to determine trial acceptability. Sick leave days (primary outcome) were self-reported via postal questionnaire every 4 weeks during the first 6 months post-surgery and at 12 months. Secondary outcome measures were change in employment pattern, quality of life and fatigue.
Results: Of the 1,114 women assessed for eligibility, 163 (15%) were eligible. The main reason for ineligibility was age (>65 years, n = 637, 67%). Of those eligible, 111 (68%) received study information, of which 23 (21%) consented to participate in the study. Data for 18 (78%) women were analysed (intervention: n = 7; control: n = 11). Participants in the intervention group reported, on average, 53 fewer days of sick leave over the first 6 months post-surgery than those in the control group; however, this difference was not statistically significant (p = 0.122; 95% confidence interval -15.8, 122.0). No statistically significant differences were found for secondary outcomes. Interviews with trial participants indicated that trial procedures, including recruitment, randomisation and research instruments, were acceptable.
Conclusions: Conducting a pragmatic trial of effectiveness of a VR intervention among cancer survivors is both feasible and acceptable, but more research about the exact components of a VR intervention and choice of outcomes to measure effectiveness is required. VR to assist breast cancer patients in the return to work process is an important component of cancer survivorship plans.
Cancer survivor; Breast cancer; Vocational rehabilitation; Work; Employment; Sickness absence
Trials: Volume 14