Psychosocial interventions for depression, anxiety, and quality of life in cancer survivors: meta-analyses

Int J Psychiatry Med. 2006;36(1):13-34. doi: 10.2190/EUFN-RV1K-Y3TR-FK0L.


Objective: The purpose of this meta-analysis was to investigate the effects of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and patient education (PE) on commonly reported problems (depression, anxiety, pain, physical functioning, and quality of life (QOL)) in adult cancer survivors.

Methods: Meta analyses of randomized controlled trials of CBT and PE were conducted. MEDLINE, PSYCHINFO and the Cochrane Database were searched from 1993-2004. The effects of individual versus group interventions and short (<8 months) versus long (>8 months) term follow up are also reported.

Results: Fifteen studies met quality criteria. The sample size was 1,492 adult cancer survivors with an age range of 18-84. 790 were randomly assigned to intervention groups and 702 to control groups. CBT varied in duration from 4 weekly one-hour sessions to 55 weekly two-hour sessions. PE ranged from a single 20-minute session to 6 weekly one-hour sessions. Follow up ranged from 1 week to 14 months. CBT was effective for depression (ES = 1.2; 95% CI = 0.22-2.19), anxiety (ES = 1.99; 95% CI = 0.69-3.31), and QOL (ES = 0.91; 95% CI = 0.38-1.44). QOL was improved at both short and (ES = 1.45, 95% CI = .43-2.47) and long term (ES = .26; 95% CI = .06-.46) follow up. PE was not related to improved outcomes.

Conclusions: CBT is related to short-term effects on depression and anxiety and both short and long term effects on QOL. Individual interventions were more effective than group. Various CBT approaches provided in an individual format can assist cancer survivors in reducing emotional distress and improving quality of life.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Anxiety / prevention & control*
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy*
  • Depression / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / psychology
  • Neoplasms / rehabilitation*
  • Pain / prevention & control
  • Patient Education as Topic*
  • Quality of Life*