There is a lack of research related to return to work (RTW) after acute ischemic stroke. Historically considered a disease of the elderly, acute ischemic stroke studies have not routinely used return to work as an outcome. Major stroke trials have not routinely collected this data as an endpoint. However, the mean age for acute ischemic stroke (AIS) has declined to 69 years of age, while the incidence in patients under the age of 55 has increased to 19%1-3. Changes in retirement age have also affected RTW as a consideration in stroke patients. Failure to RTW after recovery from AIS has been associated with negative health outcomes such as increased cardiac disease, depression and higher rates of mortality and social consequences such as isolation and poor coping ability4.
Return to work has not been extensively studied in the AIS population. However, with an aging, yet active population and an increased awareness of AIS in younger patients, the relevance of RTW is becoming increasingly important. According to current research, up to 50% of stroke survivors are likely to return to work if they can walk, their cognition is relatively intact, they were previously employed, are younger than the mean age and have a “white collar” position5-9. The physical, psychological, social, financial and economic consequences associated with loss of productivity for patients with AIS and their caregivers are reported to cost billions of dollars each year10. With an increasing prevalence of survivors, the ability to RTW has gained significant importance as an area for further research.
The purpose of this review was to provide nurses working with stroke patients empirical evidence related to return to work outcomes. The evidence used came from current studies of AIS from January 2008 to May 2014. This time frame was used to capture the most recent evidenced based practice and research studies that would build on top of the systematic review previously done including years 1962-200711.
Harris, PhD, MBA, CRNP, Catherine, "Return to work after stroke: a nursing state of the science." (2014). College of Nursing Faculty Papers & Presentations. Paper 75.