Effect of mHealth plus occupational therapy on cognitive function, mood and physical function in people after cancer: Secondary analysis of a randomized controlled trial

Ann Phys Rehabil Med. 2023 Mar;66(2):101681. doi: 10.1016/j.rehab.2022.101681. Epub 2022 Nov 30.


Background: Medical and surgical treatments for breast cancer have various adverse effects. Both mobile health and supervised intervention strategies have been implemented to overcome these effects, but some gaps remain to be addressed. Scientific evidence for the effectiveness of occupational therapy in cancer is limited.

Objective: To compare the clinical effectiveness of the BENECA mHealth app used alone or combined with an integral supervised rehabilitation strategy that focused on cognitive performance, mood state, functional capacity, and cancer-related pain and fatigue in overweight women after breast cancer.

Methods: In this secondary analysis of an assessor-blinded randomized controlled clinical trial, 80 overweight women after breast cancer (stage I-IIIA) were randomly allocated to an integral approach group (IA; n=40) or a control group (CG; n=40). All participants participated in an 8-week intervention. Assessments were performed at baseline, 8 weeks, and 6 months and included cognitive performance (Trial Making Test and Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale), psychological state (Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale), pain (Brief Pain Inventory), fatigue (Piper Fatigue Scale), and physical function (6 min walk test). An intention-to-treat analysis was conducted with analysis of covariance.

Results: Selective attention (TMT) was significantly higher in the IA group, with a moderate to large effect size for TMT A (T2: d=1.1; T 3: d=1.2), working memory and processing speed (WAIS), anxiety and general HADS score (d=1.6), and functional capacity at 8 weeks and 6 months (d=1.5). Fatigue perception (mean difference, -0.6; 95% CI -1.4 to 0.04; p=0.009) and pain (intensity level p<0.001; interference level p=0.002) were also significantly more improved in the IA group.

Conclusions: An integral strategy involving the BENECA mHealth app with a supervised, multimodal intervention improved cognitive, psychological, and functional performance in women after breast cancer more than mHealth alone. Occupational therapy has a role to play in breast cancer rehabilitation.

Keywords: Breast cancer; Cancer survivors; Cognitive function; Occupational therapy; Rehabilitation; Telemedicine.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Breast Neoplasms* / therapy
  • Cognition
  • Fatigue
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Occupational Therapy*
  • Overweight
  • Quality of Life / psychology
  • Telemedicine*