Purpose/objectives: To evaluate changes in body image and self-esteem in women with gynecologic malignancies who experience chemotherapy-induced alopecia and to examine the effectiveness of a videotape intervention on body image and self-esteem.
Design: A prospective, randomized study.
Setting: Subjects were accrued from 11 Gynecologic Oncology Group (GOG) member institutions participating in 14 GOG treatment protocols.
Sample: 136 women with chemotherapy-induced alopecia, a mean age of 57.7 years, and advanced disease at study entry.
Methods: Prior to the first course of chemotherapy, all subjects received standard counseling regarding hair loss. Body image and self-esteem scores were obtained prior to course 1 and 3 and after course 4 of chemotherapy. Prior to course 3, women with grade 2 alopecia were allocated randomly to the videotape intervention or no intervention.
Main research variables: Total body image and self-esteem as measured by the Body Cathexis/Self-Cathexis Scale (BCSCS).
Findings: A small but statistically significant change (p = 0.045) in body image was observed after chemotherapy-induced alopecia, with no change in self-esteem. The videotape did not produce a significant effect on body image score.
Conclusions: The study results support prior studies that have reported changes in body image as a result of chemotherapy-induced alopecia. The intervention employed (a videotape) was not effective. The BCSCS is a simple and quick measurement for use in future studies
Implications for nursing: Chemotherapy-induced alopecia has an adverse effect on body image. Novel interventions are needed to assist women in coping with this consequence of treatment.