WCPT Africa Region Conference System, 9th WCPT Africa Region Congress

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Therapists’ perceived barriers and facilitators of return to work after stroke
Veronica Ntsiea, Heleen Van Aswegen, Sue Lord, Steve Olorunju

Last modified: 2012-02-06

Abstract


Purpose: Stroke impacts on a person’s ability to participate in community activities such as returning to work. Disability, however, should not inhibit gainful employment especially with current innovative technology. Employees who become disabled are often encouraged or forced to apply for disability benefits and they tend to retire earlier than other employees do, although if their needs are reasonably accommodated they might continue as productive employees. A significant number of people who have stroke are less than 55 years old and are still within the working age. Because little is known about the barriers and facilitators of return to work after stroke, this study examined the views of Gauteng therapists working in this field.  

Methods: A cross sectional study was performed using a self administered questionnaire with open ended questions about perceived barriers and facilitators of return to work after stroke. Content validity of the questionnaire was established with a group of experts in the field of neurological rehabilitation and research. The questionnaire was posted to all stroke rehabilitation units (n = 53) and 36 (68%) questionnaires were returned. The data was categorised and summarised using frequencies and percentages.

Results: Respondents’ work sites included government physiotherapy (33.3%); primary health care units (33.3%); and private combined physiotherapy and occupational therapy units (5.6%). Seventy five percent of the clinical facilities had patients with stroke who needed to return to work. The most commonly perceived barriers of return to work after stroke from the therapists’ perspective were the severity of the patient’s physical impairments (36.1%) and unemployment of patients at the time of having stroke (30.6%). The most commonly perceived facilitators of return to work after stroke were willingness of the employer to reasonably accommodate the patient at work (33.3%) and family support (22.2%).

Conclusions: Severe physical impairment is the most commonly perceived barrier of return to work after stroke and willingness of the employer to reasonably accommodate the patient at work is the most commonly perceived facilitator of return to work after stroke.

Ethical clearance for this study was granted by the University of the Witwatersrand committee for research on human subjects (clearance number M081132)  

 

Key words: Stroke, Return to work


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