Barriers and facilitators to staying in work after stroke: insight from an online forum.
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OBJECTIVE: To explore barriers and facilitators to staying in work following stroke. DESIGN: Qualitative analysis of posts regarding staying in work following stroke using the archives of an online forum for stroke survivors. PARTICIPANTS: 60 stroke survivors (29 male, 23 female, 8 not stated; mean age at stroke 44 years) who have returned to work, identified using terms 'return to work' and 'back at work'. SETTING: Posts from UK stroke survivors and family members on Talkstroke, the forum of the Stroke Association, between 2004 and 2011. RESULTS: Stroke and transient ischaemic attack (TIA) survivors reported residual impairments that for many had impact on work. Most impairments were 'invisible', including fatigue, problems with concentration, memory and personality changes. Participants described positive (eg, back at work being better than expected) and negative work experiences, including being at risk of losing the job because of stroke-related impairments. Barriers to successfully staying in work included lack of understanding of stroke--in particular invisible impairments--of survivors, employers and general practitioners (GPs), and lack of support in terms of formal adjustments, and 'feeling supported'. Stroke survivors described how they developed their own coping strategies, and how workplace and employer helped them to stay in work. CONCLUSIONS: Despite having been able to return to work after a stroke, people may still experience difficulties in staying in work and risking losing their job. There is a need to improve awareness, in particular of invisible stroke-related impairments, among stroke survivors, work personnel and clinicians. This might be achieved through improved assessments of residual impairments in the workplace and in general practice. Future studies should investigate the effect of unrecognised fatigue and invisible impairments on staying in work following stroke, and explore the potential role for primary care in supporting stroke survivors who have returned to employment.
AuthorsBalasooriya-Smeekens, C; Bateman, A; Mant, J; De Simoni, A
- College Publications