Objective: The importance of psychosocial counselling after a diagnosis of cancer has been acknowledged and many intervention studies have been carried out, with the aim to find out which types of intervention are most effective in enhancing quality of life in cancer patients. A factor which could be part of effective counselling could be the time of offering psychosocial counselling. The aim of this study was to research the effect of time of enrolment in a psychosocial group intervention on psychosocial adjustment.
Methods: In the present study, 67 women with early stage breast cancer were randomised in a psychosocial group intervention program starting within 4 months after surgery or in the same intervention program starting at least 3 months later.
Results: The main conclusion of this study is that women who started with their intervention early were less distressed at 6 months follow-up than women who were in the delayed condition. Medical and demographic variables were predictive for some psychosocial adjustment indicators, but were not associated with time of enrolment. Regardless of time of enrolment, women improved in distress, body image and recreational activities, but showed a decrease in social interaction.
Conclusion: Though results are limited, based on these results we suggest that psychosocial counselling should be offered as soon after diagnosis or surgery for breast cancer.
Practice implications: Women diagnosed with primary breast cancer should be able to start with psychological counselling soon after being diagnosed, to prevent them from becoming distressed at long term.