Factors shaping return to work: a qualitative study among heart failure patients in Denmark

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PURPOSE: For people of working-age diagnosed with heart failure, return to work (RTW) is often a significant rehabilitation goal. To inform vocational rehabilitation strategies, we conducted a qualitative study aiming at exploring patient experienced support needs, and barriers and facilitators to RTW.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: Ten men and eight women with heart failure (48-60 years) were interviewed in Denmark during 2022. A thematic analysis was conducted using the Sherbrooke model as framework.

RESULTS: Multiple factors operating at different levels shaped participants' RTW processes. Personal factors included motivation, mental and physical health, social relations, and financial concerns. Factors in the health care system shaping RTW included access to medical treatment, mental health care, and cardiac rehabilitation. Factors in workplace system shaping RTW included job type, employer support, and social relations. Factors in the legislative and insurance system shaping RTW included authorities' administration of sickness benefits, professional assistance, vocational counselling, and interdisciplinary cooperation.

CONCLUSION: Findings illustrate a need to include vocational rehabilitation within comprehensive cardiac rehabilitation programmes, to identify people in need of support, to improve the coordination of care across the health and social care sectors, and to involve employers, health care professionals, and social workers in individualised RTW strategies.IMPLICATIONS FOR REHABILITATIONVocational re-integration is shaped by multiple factors operating at different levels (including personal factors, work-related factors, factors in the health care system, and factors in the legislative and insurance system).To improve return to work following heart failure, there is a need for multi-level initiatives, including policy measures and efforts to enhance continuity and coordination of care.People with heart failure in need of vocational support should be identified early within comprehensive cardiac rehabilitation programmes.Health care professionals should address work-related issues and provide individualised information and clear advice regarding timely and safe return to work.Individualised return-to-work plans should be developed within interdisciplinary teams across health and social care sectors and involve employers to ensure that they are aware of relevant work accommodations.

Original languageEnglish
JournalDisability and Rehabilitation
Number of pages11
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2024

ID: 369914815