Experiences in the provision, fitting and supply of external breast prostheses: findings from a national survey

Eur J Cancer Care (Engl). 2009 Nov;18(6):556-68. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2354.2007.00898.x. Epub 2009 Jun 1.


A good-quality external breast prosthesis and prosthesis-fitting service is integral to recovery post-mastectomy. However, this area of care has minimal information or research available. The aim of this study was to investigate women's experience of the provision, fitting, supply and use of breast prostheses in Ireland. Three national surveys were undertaken with women (n = 527), breast care nurses (BCNs) (n = 32) and retail prosthesis fitters (n = 12). The findings identified the importance of the prosthesis for shape, appearance to self, appearance to others, sense of well-being, self-confidence and femininity. Dissatisfaction with weight, comfort and movement of the prosthesis was identified. Cost and travel distance were found to influence the replacement of the prosthesis. Dissatisfaction emerged with the display and choice of products, and brochure availability at the prosthesis fitting. Women preferred to be fitted for the first silicone prosthesis by a BCN in a hospital setting whereas for the replacement prosthesis they preferred a trained fitter at a specialized prosthesis supplier. BCNs and retail fitters identified the need for service guidelines and increased availability of professional development opportunities in prosthesis-fitting. These findings contributed to the development of standards of care for breast prosthesis-fitting services to benefit women and to provide guidelines for those providing the service.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Breast Neoplasms / economics
  • Breast Neoplasms / psychology
  • Breast Neoplasms / rehabilitation*
  • Cost of Illness
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Ireland
  • Mastectomy / psychology
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Patient Satisfaction*
  • Postoperative Care
  • Professional-Patient Relations
  • Prostheses and Implants / economics
  • Prostheses and Implants / psychology*
  • Prostheses and Implants / supply & distribution
  • Prosthesis Design / psychology
  • Prosthesis Fitting / psychology*
  • Young Adult