Purpose: The primary goal of this study was to evaluate the feasibility and effectiveness of a structured, multidisciplinary intervention targeted to maintain the overall quality of life (QOL), which is more comprehensive than psychosocial distress, of patients undergoing radiation therapy for advanced-stage cancer.
Patients and methods: Radiation therapy patients with advanced cancer and an estimated 5-year survival rate of 0% to 50% were randomly assigned to either an eight-session structured multidisciplinary intervention arm or a standard care arm. The eight 90-minute sessions addressed the five domains of QOL including cognitive, physical, emotional, spiritual, and social functioning. The primary end point of maintaining overall QOL was assessed by a single-item linear analog scale (Linear Analog Scale of Assessment or modified Spitzer Uniscale). QOL was assessed at baseline, week 4 (end of multidisciplinary intervention), week 8, and week 27.
Results: Of the 103 participants, overall QOL at week 4 was maintained by the patients in the intervention (n = 49), whereas QOL at week 4 significantly decreased for patients in the control group (n = 54). This change reflected a 3-point increase from baseline in the intervention group and a 9-point decrease from baseline in the control group (P = .009). Intervention participants maintained their QOL, and controls gradually returned to baseline by the end of the 6-month follow-up period.
Conclusion: Although intervention participants maintained and actually improved their QOL during radiation therapy, control participants experienced a significant decrease in their QOL. Thus, a structured multidisciplinary intervention can help maintain or even improve QOL in patients with advanced cancer who are undergoing cancer treatment.