Support Groups Improve Quality of Life of Breast for Cancer Patients

Craig Stoltz Health Guide
  • A report released today by the journal Cancer suggests that women with advanced breast cancer who participate in support groups don't necessarily live longer. But previous studies on the issue have had contradictory findings. So let's dig in and see what we know.


    This study in 50 words or less

    Researchers studied 125 women with metastatic or recurrent breast cancer. All got educational literature. Half also participated in weekly 90-minute "supportive-expressive" therapy sessions for at least a year. No meaningful difference in mortality was found between groups.

    But wait. . .

    This study focused on women with advanced-stage cancer whose prognosis was poor. This study does not look at the effect of support groups on women with earlier stage disease.

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    Previous research has demonstrated that support groups can improve quality of life significantly. Researchers of the current study reiterate this. The American Cancer Society publishes an excellent overview of previous research into breast cancer survival and quality of life with and without support groups.

    So what are you going to do about it?

    Participate in a support group if you like. The researchers point out that medical interventions have improved outcomes so much in the last 20 years that any benefits of group support may be hard to measure. Still, nothing here questions the impact group support can have on quality of life.

    Learn more

    Join Health Central breast cancer community host Maria Gifford to discuss your experiences with support groups--including the online type you'll find on our site.


    Read Expert Patient PJ Hamel's SharePost Support Groups Don't Improve Breast Cancer Survival Rates, which includes an interview with Dr. James Coyne, a leading psychologist and UPenn professor, on the value of psychotherapy and support groups.


    Our own Dr. Dean Edell hosts a video about the value of alternative and complementary cancer therapies, including emotional and psychological interventions.

Published On: July 23, 2007