Counseling interventions delivered in women with breast cancer to improve health-related quality of life: a systematic review

Qual Life Res. 2017 Oct;26(10):2573-2592. doi: 10.1007/s11136-017-1613-6. Epub 2017 Jun 16.


Background: Higher survival rates for breast cancer patients have led to concerns in dealing with short- and long-term side effects. The most common complications are impairment of shoulder functions, pain, lymphedema, and dysesthesia of the injured arm; psychological consequences concern: emotional distress, anxiety, and depression, thereby, deeply impacting/affecting daily living activity, and health-related quality of life.

Objective: To perform a systematic review for assessing the efficacy or effectiveness of interventions aiming at improving health-related quality of life, return to daily activity, and correct lifestyles among breast cancer patients.

Methods: A literature search was conducted in December 2016 using the databases PubMed and Scopus. Search terms included: (counseling) AND (breast cancer) AND (quality of life). Articles on counseling interventions to improve quality of life, physical and psychological outcomes were included.

Results: Thirty-five articles met the inclusion criteria. The interventions were grouped in five main areas: concerning lifestyle counseling interventions, related to combined interventions (physical activity and nutritional counseling), physical therapy, peer counseling, multidisciplinary approach, included psychological, psycho-educational interventions, and cognitive-behavior therapy (CBT). Exercise counseling as well as physical therapy are effective to improve shoulder mobility, healing wounds, and limb strength. Psychological therapies such as psychoeducation and CBT may help to realize a social and psychological rehabilitation.

Conclusion: A multidisciplinary approach can help in sustaining and restoring impaired physical, psychosocial, and occupational outcomes of breast cancer patients.

Keywords: Breast cancer; Counseling; Health-related quality of life; Intervention.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms / mortality
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Breast Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Counseling / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Sickness Impact Profile*
  • Survival Rate