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Return to work/job retention toolkit for employers and stroke survivors

Use of the intervention-mapping approach to aid co-design of a toolkit for employers supporting stroke survivors to return to- and stay in work post-stroke

What we are doing?

We will be applying the intervention-mapping approach to aid co-design of a toolkit prototype to improve the support given by employers to stroke survivors during the return-to-work process and beyond. Various data collection methods (e.g., survey, interviews, workshops) will be used to gain perspectives from employer stakeholders (including those who are also stroke survivors themselves). We will apply theory and evidence to identify and describe the toolkit’s potential mechanisms of change; and identify potential barriers and facilitators to future implementation. 

Why we are doing it?

The number of working age stroke survivors is increasing, and many have disabilities. Clinical guidelines recommend employers seek expert advice when an employee returns to work, but organisations do not always have access to such advice. Research has shown that stroke survivors and employers often lack knowledge and understanding of stroke and the return-to-work process. No self-guided interventions appear to have been developed for use by employers and stroke survivors to guide them through the RTW process. Whilst online resources do exist, they often do not contain content to address issues commonly experienced during the RTW process of stroke survivors. 

What the benefits will be and to whom? 

Successful design and future implementation and use of the toolkit may lead to more stroke survivors returning to- and staying in work. In turn, this could lead to improved productivity and company morale, and reduced sickness absence costs in organisations. It may also lead to personal benefits for employers (e.g., improvements in knowledge, confidence, and skills in managing returns to work).  Returning to- and maintaining working roles may provide stroke survivor employees with financial security, a sense of purpose and self-worth, and routine and structure to their daily lives. 

Who we are working with:

Our advisory group includes experts in human resources, occupational health, rehabilitation medicine, research methodology, and vocational rehabilitation. Group members also include stroke survivors and representatives from national organisations (e.g., Stroke Association, Different Strokes). We will also be seeking input from a Patient and Public Involvement group of stroke survivors at the University of Nottingham. 

The stakeholder participants will include employers across private, public and voluntary sectors. These participants will have professional experience supporting stroke survivors to return to- and stay in work, and/or personal experience of returning to work post-stroke. 


Kristelle Craven, PhD student, Centre for Rehabilitation & Ageing Research (CRAR), Medical School, University of Nottingham,