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Dance and Movement Program Improves Quality-of-Life Measures in Breast Cancer Survivors

Sandel, Susan L. PhD, ADTR, CLM; Judge, James O. MD; Landry, Nora BS; Faria, Lynn MA; Ouellette, Robbie PT; Majczak, Marta BA


A pilot research study was conducted at 2 cancer centers in Connecticut to determine the effect of a dance and movement program on quality of life and shoulder function in breast cancer survivors treated within the prior 5 years. Thirty-five women completed the trial that included a 12-week intervention, using The Lebed Method, Focus on Healing Through Movement and Dance. The study design was a randomized control trial with a wait list control group crossover to active treatment in weeks 13 to 25, with the treatment group receiving the program in weeks 1 to 12, and no program in weeks 13 to 25. Outcome measures were the Breast Cancer Quality of Life (FACT-B), Shoulder range of motion (ROM), and Body Image Scale. FACT-B significantly improved in the intervention group at 13 weeks from 102.0 ± 15.8 to 116.7 ± 16.9, compared to the wait list group 108.1 ± 16.4 to 107.1 ± 21.3 (time × group effect, P = .008). During the crossover phase, the FACT-B score increased in the wait list group and was stable in the treatment group. The overall effect of the training at 26 weeks was significant (time effect, P = .03), and the order of training was also significant (P = .015). Shoulder ROM increased in both groups at 13 weeks —15° and 8° in the intervention and wait list groups (Time effect, P = .03; time × group, P = .58). Body Image improved similarly in both groups at 13 weeks (time effect, P = .001; time × group, P = .25), and at 26 weeks. There was no significant effect of the order of training for these outcome measures. A dance movement program that addressed the physical and emotional needs of women following treatment for breast cancer substantially improved a breast cancer–specific quality-of-life measure. Larger studies are justified to determine the acceptability of this therapy as part of the continuum of care for breast cancer survivors.

MidState Medical Center, Meriden, Conn (Dr Sandel and Mss Landry and Faria); University of Connecticut School of Medicine, Farmington (Dr Judge and Ms Majczak); and Hebrew Home and Hospital, West Hartford, Conn (Mr Ouellette).

Corresponding author and reprints: Susan L. Sandel, PhD, ADTR, CLM, MidState Medical Center (East Campus), 883 Paddock Ave, Meriden, CT 06450 (e-mail:

This study was supported by the State of Connecticut Breast Cancer Research and Education Income Tax Check off Fund.

Accepted for publication March 24, 2005.

© 2005 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.