Effect of group therapy for breast cancer on healthcare utilization

Cancer Pract. 2001 Jan-Feb;9(1):19-26. doi: 10.1046/j.1523-5394.2001.91005.x.


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to determine whether participation in a group psychosocial intervention by patients with breast cancer would result in an improvement in psychological measures and in reduced billings in general medical expenses.

Description of study: Eligible women who had completed treatment for stage 0, I, or II primary breast cancer were prospectively and randomly assigned to either the intervention (n=46) or control (n=43) group. Both groups received the usual psychosocial care; however, the intervention group also participated in six weekly cognitive/behavioral psychosocial meetings. All were assessed on psychiatric symptoms, mood, depression, and coping strategies at four time periods: pre-intervention, post-intervention, 1-year follow-up, and 2-year follow-up. Alberta Healthcare billing records were obtained covering the 2-year follow-up period to determine the amount billed per person over the course of the study.

Results: Women in the intervention group had less depression, less overall mood disturbance, better overall quality of life, and fewer psychiatric symptoms than those in the control group, beginning immediately post-intervention and remaining so at 2 years post-intervention. Billing in the intervention group was an average of $147 less than in the control group, a 23.5% reduction.

Clinical implications: This is the first study to show that a psychosocial intervention can reduce direct healthcare billings in a sample of patients with cancer. Importantly, these findings help to justify the routine availability of such programs in cancer treatment facilities worldwide.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alberta
  • Breast Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Female
  • Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Prospective Studies
  • Psychotherapy, Group*