Patients with inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) are often impaired in their occupational participation and ability to work due to IBD-symptoms and complex psychosocial problems. The aim was to explore work-related problems and requested support of IBD-patients and to develop adequate occupational-oriented offers in rehabilitation with a multi-perspective approach.
Guided interviews with employed IBD-patients in medical rehabilitation at 2 measurement points (N=12), guided interviews with employed IBD-patients in specialist gastroenterological care (N=7), 4 focus group interviews with rehabilitation staff (N=27) and expert interviews (N=8) were conducted. The qualitative data have been examined in MAXQDA using content-structuring qualitative content analysis.
The 4 different interview groups report a similar spectrum of work-related problems and describe various somatic and psychosocial impairments in the working life of IBD-patients. Physical as well as cognitive impairments, fatigue, pain and psychosocial barriers, which are often associated with reduced productivity at work, are described. Additional restrictions result from unhealthy behaviour at work. The results show an increased need for rehabilitative occupational-oriented offers. IBD patients want a more work-related orientation of rehabilitative offers. They ask for competence-promoting offers to develop specific working skills and coping strategies to maintain their ability to work.
The results highlight the range of work-related problems of IBD-patients and show occupational-oriented support opportunities and potentials in rehabilitation sector. Medical rehabilitation must be more tailored to the needs of working IBD-patients and should be more focused on health-related challenges at work. A stronger occupational focus, standardised screening for work-related problems and a competence-promoting orientation of IBD-rehabilitation could enhance the spectrum of rehabilitation offers and maintain the ability to work.

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