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Vol. 73, No. 5, 2004
Issue release date: September–October 2004
Psychother Psychosom 2004;73:276–285

Psychosocial Intervention for Women with Primary, Non-Metastatic Breast Cancer: A Comparison between Participants and Non-Participants

Vos P.J. · Garssen B. · Visser A.P. · Duivenvoorden H.J. · de Haes H.C.J.M.
aHelen Dowling Institute, Utrecht, bDepartment of Medical Psychology and Psychotherapy, Erasmus Medical Center, Rotterdam, and cDepartment of Medical Psychology, Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

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Background: Despite improvements in the medical treatment of breast cancer, resulting in better prognoses, women diagnosed with the illness often experience psychosocial problems. As a result, many psychosocial intervention programs have been developed, usually with positive results. The aim of this study was to examine the effects of two 12-week psychosocial intervention programs for women with a primary, non-metastatic breast cancer diagnosis in comparison to women who were on a waiting list for these interventions for 3 months. Methods: Sixty-nine women with primary, non-metastatic breast cancer, but otherwise without psychosocial problems, were randomized to a group of patients treated with the intervention program (group psychotherapy or social support group) or a control group (on a waiting list). Differences between both groups in psychosocial adjustment, social support and coping at the short-term follow-up were described in this study. Results: Women who participated in the group intervention programs did not differ from women in the control group regarding psychosocial adjustment at the end of the study. Women who participated in the social support groups reported to receive more social support from others not very close to them. They also used more palliative coping than women from the psychotherapy group. Conclusions: Apparently, women who are being diagnosed with breast cancer, but otherwise have no psychosocial adjustment problems following the diagnosis, do not especially benefit from a short-term intervention program compared to women in the control group.

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