Loughborough University
Leicestershire, UK
LE11 3TU
+44 (0)1509 263171
Loughborough University

Enterprise Awards 2013

Social Impact

We are Macmillan. Cancer support

Helping people living with and beyond cancer to Work it out

Loughborough academics
Dr Fehmidah Munir, Dr Deborah Wallis, Dr Katryna Kalawsky School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences

Every year over 726,000 people of working age in the UK are living with a cancer diagnosis. Many people with cancer do not receive the information, advice or rehabilitation support they need to help them return to work and the majority will suffer a loss of income or experience higher costs as a result.

The Loughborough research team spent nine months developing a work management tool for those living with and beyond cancer: Work it out: the essential questions to ask about work.  Working closely with healthcare professionals, employers, Jobcentre Plus advisors, Union representatives and those living with and beyond cancer, the team conducted a series of interviews and surveys. They also conducted a Delphi consensus with these key stakeholders to identify pressing work issues and questions.

The research was funded by the National Cancer Survivorship Initiative – a Macmillan Cancer Support, Department of Health and NHS programme – to improve the on–going support and services for those living with and beyond cancer.

The tool outlines important questions to ask at four key stages: initial work issues and absence from work, preparing to return to work, returning to work, and not returning to work, and shows users who can provide the answers at different steps of their cancer journey. It provides essential questions to help them get the most from interactions with healthcare professionals, employers, HR professionals and benefits advisers.

Work it out was launched in 2011, in conjunction with Affinity Health at Work Consultancies and Macmillan Cancer Support. The Loughborough team’s new resource, Work it out for carers, was launched in 2012.


  • Over 10,000 copies of Work it out were distributed across the UK in 2011
  • Macmillan Cancer Support receives an average of 500 requests a month for each publication, plus over double the number of downloads
  • Both tools are part of the Essential work and cancer toolkit that employers can order for free from Macmillan
  • Both tools are also available on the National Cancer Survivorship Initiative’s website
  • The Loughborough team has also published the methodology on designing the tool in BMC Public Health

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