The impact of rehabilitation support services on health-related quality of life for women with breast cancer
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As the number of women surviving breast cancer increases, with implications for the health system, research into the physical and psychosocial sequelae of the cancer and its treatment is a priority. This research estimated self-reported health-related quality of life (HRQoL) associated with two rehabilitation interventions for breast cancer survivors, compared to a non-intervention group. Women were selected if they received an early home-based physiotherapy intervention (DAART, n = 36) or a group-based exercise and psychosocial intervention (STRETCH, n = 31). Questionnaires on HRQoL, using the Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy - Breast Cancer plus Arm Morbidity module, were administered at pre-, post-intervention, 6- and 12-months post-diagnosis. Data on a non-intervention group (n = 208) were available 6- and 12-months post-diagnosis. Comparing pre/post-intervention measures, benefits were evident for functional well-being, including reductions in arm morbidity and upper-body disability for participants completing the DAART service at one-to-two months following diagnosis. In contrast, minimal changes were observed between pre/post-intervention measures for the STRETCH group at approximately 4-months post-diagnosis. Overall, mean HRQoL scores (adjusted for age, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, high blood pressure and occupation type) improved gradually across all groups from 6- to 12-months post-diagnosis, and no prominent differences were found. However, this obscured declining HRQoL scores for 20-40% of women at 12 months post-diagnosis, despite receiving supportive care services. Greater awareness and screening for adjustment problems among breast cancer survivors is required throughout the disease trajectory. Early physiotherapy after surgery has the potential for short-term functional, physical and overall HRQoL benefits.
Breast Cancer Research and Treatment