Home-based multidimensional survivorship programmes for breast cancer survivors

Background

The demands are growing for effective multidimensional survivorship programmes in women who have had breast cancer. This review was conducted to evaluate the effects of home-based multidimensional survivorship programmes on the quality of life in women who had completed primary treatment (surgery and/or chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy) for breast cancer in the previous 10 years.

Study characteristics

We found 26 studies with 2272 participants receiving home-based multidimensional survivorship programmes compared with control. The content and delivery approach of the home-based multidimensional survivorship programmes were diverse among the included studies. The survivorship programme could incorporate any combination of at least two of the three identified components: educational (such as the provision of information and advice on how to self-manage); physical (such as exercise or resistance training); and psychological (such as counselling and cognitive therapies). Most of the studies used usual care (routine medical follow-up services) as a comparator. A few studies used a lower level or different type of intervention (e.g. stress management or exercise) or attention control as the comparator.

The results revealed that home-based multidimensional survivorship programmes in breast cancer survivors appear to have a short-term beneficial effect of improving quality of life. Several other studies examined the effects of home-based multidimensional survivorship programmes on symptoms and psychosocial outcomes. Those breast cancer survivors who received home-based multidimensional survivorship programmes showed a reduction in fatigue, insomnia and anxiety, but the effect was in the short term. There was no difference between groups with respect to symptoms of depression, flushes and night sweats. We found that a group-based approach may be more effective than an individual-based approach to deliver the home-based multidimensional survivorship programmes. However, we found no evidence for a difference in quality of life with educational, psychological or physical components of the survivorship programmes.

Quality of evidence

The quality of evidence across studies for quality of life ranged from moderate to very low, meaning that in some cases we were fairly confident about the results (e.g. quality of life improvements) while in other cases we were uncertain about the results (e.g. reductions in fatigue, insomnia and anxiety).

Authors' conclusions: 

The results of this systematic review and meta-analysis revealed that HBMS programmes in breast cancer survivors appear to have a short-term beneficial effect of improving breast cancer-specific quality of life and global quality of life as measured by FACT-B and EORTC-C30, respectively. In addition, HBMS programmes are associated with a reduction in anxiety, fatigue and insomnia immediately after the intervention. We assessed the quality of evidence across studies as moderate for some outcomes, meaning that we are fairly confident about the results, while we assessed other outcomes as being low-quality, meaning that we are uncertain about the result.

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Background: 

The prognosis and survival rate of women with breast cancer have significantly improved worldwide. Effective home-based multidimensional programmes for breast cancer survivors have gained an ever greater emphasis in survivorship care to maximise women’s quality of life for their successful transition to rehabilitation and normal life. It is important to summarise the best available evidence to evaluate the effects of home-based multidimensional survivorship programmes on quality of life in women within 10 years of the completion of surgery or adjuvant cancer therapy for breast cancer, or both.

Objectives: 

To assess the effects of home-based, multidimensional survivorship (HBMS) programmes on maintaining or improving the quality of life in breast cancer survivors.

Search strategy: 

In April 2016 we searched the Cochrane Breast Cancer Specialised Register, CENTRAL, PubMed, Embase, CINAHL Plus, PsycINFO, Web of Science, and the World Health Organization's International Clinical Trials Registry Platform (WHO ICTRP) and ClinicalTrials.gov. We also screened reference lists of all identified studies and contacted study authors.

Selection criteria: 

Randomised controlled trials (RCTs) and quasi-RCTs assessing the effects of HBMS programmes in maintaining or improving quality of life in women with stages 0 to 3 breast cancer who completed primary cancer treatment (surgery or adjuvant cancer therapy, or both) up to 10 years earlier. We considered studies where the interventions included more than one of the following listed components: educational (such as information provision and self-management advice), physical (such as exercise training and resistance training) and psychological (such as counselling and cognitive therapies), to constitute a multidimensional programme. Interventions had to be allowed to be carried out at home.

Data collection and analysis: 

Two authors independently assessed eligible studies for inclusion, and performed quality assessment and extracted relevant data of the included studies. Quality of life was the primary outcome of the review.

Main results: 

We included 22 RCTs and four quasi-RCTs on 2272 participants. We categorised the intervention components into four groups: educational and psychological; educational and physical; physical and psychological; and educational, physical and psychological. Most of the studies used usual care (routine medical follow-up services) as the comparator. A few studies used a lower level or different type of intervention (e.g. stress management or exercise) or attention control as the comparator.

We used the Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-Breast (FACT B), European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer Quality of Life C30 (EORTC C30), Quality of Life (QoL) Breast Cancer, and SF36 questionnaires to assess quality of life. HBMS programmes may increase breast cancer-specific quality of life and global quality of life immediately after the intervention, as measured by FACT-B and EORTC C30 (FACT-B: mean difference (MD) 4.55, 95% confidence interval (CI) 2.33 to 6.78, 7 studies, 764 participants; EORTC: MD 4.38, 95% CI 0.11 to 8.64, 6 studies; 299 participants; moderate-quality evidence). There was no evidence of a difference in quality of life as measured by QoL-Breast Cancer or SF-36 (QoL-Breast Cancer: MD 0.42, 95% CI -0.02 to 0.85, 2 studies, 111 participants, very low-quality evidence; physical composite score SF36: MD 0.55, 95% CI -3.52 to 4.63, 2 studies, 308 participants, low-quality evidence).

We observed a similar pattern at one to three months after the intervention: FACT-B (MD 6.10, 95% CI 2.48 to 9.72, 2 studies, 426 participants), EORTC-C30 (MD 6.32, 95% CI 0.61 to 12.04, 2 studies; 172 participants) and QoL-Breast Cancer (MD 0.45, 95% CI -0.19 to 1.09, 1 study, 61 participants). At four to six months and 12 months, there was no evidence of a difference in quality of life between groups (four to six months: EORTC - MD 0.08, 95% CI -7.28 to 7.44, 2 studies; 117 participants; SF-36 - MD -1.05, 95% CI -5.60 to 3.51, 2 studies, 308 participants; 12 months: EORTC - MD 2.04, 95% CI -9.91 to 13.99, 1 study; 57 participants).

Functional status was incorporated into the quality of life subscale findings. HBMS programmes may decrease anxiety (MD of Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS) -1.01, 95% CI -1.94 to -0.08, 5 studies, 253 participants, low-quality evidence) compared to control immediately after the intervention but the effect did not persist at four to six months. There was no evidence of improvements in depression immediately after HBMS (MD of HADS -1.36, 95% CI -2.94 to 0.22, 4 studies, 213 participants, low-quality evidence) or at follow-up. HBMS programmes may also decrease fatigue (MD -1.11, 95% CI -1.78 to -0.45, 3 studies, 127 participants; low-quality evidence) and insomnia (MD -1.81, 95% CI -3.34 to -0.27, 3 studies, 185 participants, low-quality evidence).

None of the included studies reported service needs and utilisation and cost of care, and therefore the effect of HBMS programmes on healthcare utilisation and cost is unknown. Due to the variations in assessment methods of adherence among the eight studies, we could not combine the results for meta-analysis. We synthesised the results narratively, with the reported adherence rates of 58% to 100%.

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