Positive psychology interventions in breast cancer. A systematic review

Psychooncology. 2014 Jan;23(1):9-19. doi: 10.1002/pon.3353. Epub 2013 Jul 29.


Objective: Positive psychology is an emerging area of empirical study, not only in clinical, but also in health psychology. The present systematic review aims to synthesize the evidence about the positive psychology interventions utilized in breast cancer.

Methods: Relevant studies were identified via Pubmed, PsycINFO, Web of Science, Scopus, Cochrane, CINAHL, Wiley Online Library, TDX, and DIALNET databases (up to April 2013). Only those papers focused on interventions related to positive psychology and carried out on breast cancer patients were included.

Results: Of the 7266 articles found through databases, 16 studies were finally included in this review. Five groups of therapies were found: mindfulness-based approaches, expression of positive emotions, spiritual interventions, hope therapy, and meaning-making interventions. These specific interventions promoted positive changes in breast cancer participants, such as enhanced quality of life, well-being, hope, benefit finding, or optimism. However, the disparity of the interventions and some methodological issues limit the outcomes.

Conclusions: Some studies provided relevant evidence about the clear development of positive aspects from the breast cancer experience. Positive interventions applied to patients and survivors of breast cancer were found to be able to promote positive aspects. A global consensus of a positive therapies classification is needed to take one more step in structuring positive psychology.

Keywords: breast cancer; breast oncology; intervention; positive psychology; systematic review.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms / psychology
  • Breast Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mindfulness / methods
  • Psychotherapy* / methods