Naaman, S.C., Radwan, K., Fergusson, D., & Johnson, S. (2009). Status of psychological trials in breast cancer patients: A report of three meta-analyses. Psychiatry, 72, 50–69.doi: 10.1521/psyc.2009.72.1.50
To determine the overall efficacy and magnitude of clinical benefit of psychological interventions in patients with breast cancer, specifically looking at three outcome variables: anxiety, depression, and quality of life (QOL)
Cook, T.D., & Campbell, D.T. (1979). Quasi-experimentation: Design and analysis issues for field settings. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin.
Quality of Life
Overall ES trends among the three outcomes show that more reliable studies were associated with smaller gains. Interventions targeted to patients with clinically important levels of anxiety or depression tended to reap the most benefit, compared to patients who undergo treatment on a prophylactic basis. Group psychotherapy appears to be superior to individual therapy in the treatment of both anxiety and depression. However, a direct impact of group therapy on QOL was not supported in this analysis. CBT interventions appeared to be equally as effective as supportive-experiential therapies. Interventions need not span beyond 20 hours to produce statistically significant ES.
The quality of most studies was not high.
Future trials in psychosocial oncology should incorporate methodological features to enhance internal validity. Evaluation of statistically significant findings on psychometric testing may not reflect clinically significant findings and vice versa. This underscores the need for incorporating qualitative analysis in future studies. There is an absence of studies examining the efficacy of short-term interventions on QOL in advanced breast cancer and should be addressed in future research. Short-term, group interventions may provide the best utilization of scarce resources for the most effect; however, they should be targeted to those patients experiencing clinically important levels of distress. Findings point to the need for higher quality research design and reporting in this field.