Bridging Health Care and the Workplace: Formulation of a Return-to-Work Intervention for Breast Cancer Patients Using an Intervention Mapping Approach

Huguette A. M. Desiron*, Rik Crutzen, Lode Godderis, Elke Van Hoof, Angelique de Rijk

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Purpose An increasing number of breast cancer (BC) survivors of working age require return to work (RTW) support. Objective of this paper is to describe the development of a RTW intervention to be embedded in the care process bridging the gap between hospital and workplace. Method The Intervention Mapping (IM) approach was used and combined formative research results regarding RTW in BC patients with published insights on occupational therapy (OT) and RTW. Four development steps were taken, starting from needs assessment to the development of intervention components and materials. Results A five-phased RTW intervention guided by a hospital-based occupational therapist is proposed: (1) assessing the worker, the usual work and contextual factors which impacts on (re-)employment; (2) exploration of match/differences between the worker and the usual work; (3) establishing long term goals, broken down into short term goals; (4) setting up tailored actions by carefully implementing results of preceding phases; (5) step by step, the program as described in phase 4 will be executed. The occupational therapist monitors, measures and reviews goals and program-steps in the intervention to secure the tailor-made approach of each program-step of the intervention. Conclusion The use of IM resulted in a RTW oriented OT intervention. This unique intervention succeeds in matching individual BC patient needs, the input of stakeholders at the hospital and the workplace.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)350-365
JournalJournal of Occupational Rehabilitation
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2016


  • Breast cancer
  • Occupational therapy
  • Return to work
  • Intervention Mapping
  • Vocational rehabilitation

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