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National Institute of Health Research (RfPB)




Dr. Steven Sadhar (University of Birmingham), Dr Andrew Sutton (University of Birmingham), Dr Inigo Tolsa (University Hospitals Birmingham); Mrs Vicki Stock, Dr Anjali Zarkar (University Hospitals Birmingham)

Project lead

Professort Beth Grunfeld

Project objectives

Over 100,000 people of working-age receive a diagnosis of cancer each year in the UK. Evidence suggests that cancer survivors are at greater risk of not working, or leaving work life early compared to healthy controls. The WorkPlan intervention targets known psychological factors within an intervention to improve work-related outcomes among cancer survivors. This study aims to evaluate this theoretically-led intervention in a feasibility study of a randomised controlled trial with a 12 month follow-up. Sixty cancer patients will be randomly assigned to one of two arms of the trial (a guided workbook intervention or usual care). The participants will be followed-up using questionnaires and interviews over a 12 month period. Undertaking a feasibility study is critical to inform the planning of a larger, fully-powered randomised controlled trial to improve work-related outcomes among cancer survivors.

Research impact

A guided self-help treatment offers a cost efficient approach to promoting positive beliefs about illness, quicker return to work, greater satisfaction with work and with the return to work process. The study may be the first step in the development of several long-term benefits. Skills-based interventions have been shown to have long-term effects (e.g. improved mastery, self-efficacy). If effective, following a full randomised controlled trial the intervention could provide cancer survivors with the skills and confidence to manage their own return to work. Furthermore, the intervention has the potential to improve long-term job retention among cancer survivors.

 Queen’s Award for Enterprise Logo
University of the year shortlisted
QS Five Star Rating 2023