Background: Loss of employment contributes significantly to the burden of stroke on individuals and society. There is limited information on factors influencing return to work after stroke.
Objectives: To investigate the frequency and determinants of return to paid work after stroke in a multi-ethnic urban population.
Methods: Patterns of return to work were examined among people with first ever stroke registered in the population based South London Stroke Register. Employment status and functional outcome (Barthel Index (BI), Frenchay Activity Index (FAI)) were assessed 1 year after stroke. Associations between baseline characteristics and return to paid work were analysed by multivariable logistic regression analysis.
Results: Among 2874 patients with first ever strokes in 1995–2004, 400 (15%) were working before the stroke. At 1 year, 94 (35%) of 266 survivors had returned to paid work. Black ethnicity (OR 0.41; 95% CI 0.19 to 0.88), female sex (0.43; 0.21 to 0.91), older age (p<0.001), diabetes (0.25; 0.08 to 0.79) and dependence (BI ⩽19) in the acute phase (0.24; 0.11 to 0.49) were independently associated with lower odds of return to work in multivariable analysis. Better functional outcome at 1 year was associated with return to paid work (p<0.001) but 53% of 161 independent (BI >19) and 39% of 96 very active (FAI >30/45) individuals had not resumed work.
Conclusions: There were important sociodemographic differences in return to work after stroke that were independent of clinical and service use variables included in the analysis. A large proportion of patients did not resume work despite excellent functional outcome.
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Funding: The study was supported by the Modernisation Initiative Stroke Services Programme of the Guy’s and St. Thomas’ Charity. Funding for the South London Stroke Register was obtained from the Northern and Yorkshire NHS R&D Programme in Cardiovascular Disease and Stroke, the Stanley Thomas Johnson Foundation, The Stroke Association and the Department of Health, UK. The authors further acknowledge financial support from the Department of Health via the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Biomedical Research Centre award to Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust in partnership with King’s College London. CM is funded by a Department of Health Career Scientist award.
Competing interests: None.
Ethics approval: The South London Stroke Register and study were approved by the local research ethics committees.