Intervention Improves Body Image-Related Distress in Survivors of Breast Cancer

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Approximately one third of patients with breast cancer experience BID due to treatment-related adverse events.
Approximately one third of patients with breast cancer experience BID due to treatment-related adverse events.

My Changed Body (MyCB) — a Internet-based psychological intervention — helps to reduce body image-related distress (BID) in women survivors of breast cancer experiencing treatment-related adverse events (AEs), according to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Approximately 1 in 3 patients with breast cancer experience BID due to treatment-related AEs, such as breast loss, hair loss, hot flushes, and nausea. Such changes lead to psychological distress and result in impairments in work, social, and relationship functioning.

For this study, researchers randomly assigned 304 survivors of stage I to III breast cancer to the MyCB arm (n=129) or an expressive writing (EW) control arm (n=155). Eligible patients experienced at least 1 negative event associated with bodily changes that led to emotional distress, and had completed active breast cancer treatment. Study assessments were conducted at baseline and 1 week, 1 month, and 3 months after baseline.

Results showed that MyCB was a feasible intervention for this patient population; compliance was 88% and attrition was 9.2%.

Patients who completed MyCB had significantly reduced BID (P=.035), and experienced increased levels of self-compassion (P<.001) and body appreciation (P=.004) compared with patients assigned to the expressive writing arm.

The intervention effects of BID were influenced by lymphedema and appearance investment, and self-compassion mediated the effects for both BID and body appreciation.

The beneficial effects that MyCB had on BID and body appreciation were sustained at 1 month, and effects for body appreciation were maintained for 3 months postintervention.

Study participants with lymphedema in the MyCB arm had significant improvement in psychological distress, including depression and anxiety.

The authors concluded that “future research is needed to replicate these findings beyond 3 months and to determine whether booster writing sessions may provide additional benefits. Additional investigations are also needed to ascertain the impact of MyCB on other aspects of psychosocial functioning impacted by BID including overall quality of life and social, work, and relationship functioning.These findings, along with the prior user acceptability studies, demonstrate the potential for MyCB to be a key evidence-based supportive resource to enhance BCS adjustment.”

Reference

Sherman KA, Przezdziecki A, Alcorso J, et al. Reducing body image-related distress in women with breast cancer using a structured online writing exercise: results from the My Changed Body randomized controlled trial[published online April 24, 2018]. J Clin Oncol. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2017.76.3318

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