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A Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial Testing a Minimal Intervention to Prepare Breast Cancer Survivors for Recovery

Sterba, Katherine Regan PhD, MPH; Armeson, Kent MS; Franco, Regina NP; Harper, Jennifer MD; Patten, Rebecca BS; Kindall, Stacey MPH; Bearden, James MD; Zapka, Jane ScD

doi: 10.1097/NCC.0000000000000152

Background: Interventions addressing cancer survivors’ posttreatment concerns can be time-intensive and require specialized staff. Research is needed to identify feasible minimal intervention strategies to improve survivors’ quality of life after treatment.

Objectives: The objective of this study was to evaluate the feasibility and short-term impact of a minimal clinic intervention on breast cancer survivors’ quality of life, unmet needs, distress, and cancer worry.

Interventions/Methods: In this randomized controlled pilot trial, we enrolled breast cancer survivors at the end of treatment and administered baseline surveys. Participants were randomized to study arm (4-week video plus educational booklet intervention group and usual care group) and completed follow-up surveys at 10 weeks. Linear regression was used to examine intervention effects on quality of life outcomes controlling for clinical and demographic factors. Open-ended questions were used to examine program satisfaction and obtain feedback to improve the intervention.

Results: We enrolled 92 survivors in the trial. Participants rated the intervention highly and reported feeling less isolated and having more realistic expectations about their recovery after completing the program. Despite positive qualitative findings, no significant intervention effects were observed for quality of life, unmet needs, distress, or cancer worry in unadjusted or adjusted analyses.

Conclusions: Future research is needed to define optimal intervention elements to prepare breast cancer survivors for the posttreatment period.

Implications for Practice: Effective survivorship interventions may require more intensive components such as clinical input and longer follow-up periods.

Author Affiliations: Department of Public Health Sciences, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston (Drs Sterba and Zapka, Mr Armeson, and Ms Patten); Greenville Health System Cancer Institute (Ms Franco); Department of Radiation Oncology, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston (Dr Harper); Gibbs Cancer Center, Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System, South Carolina (Ms Kindall and Dr Bearden).

This research was supported by an American Cancer Society Institutional Research Grant from the Hollings Cancer Center. Katherine R. Sterba was supported by a Mentored Research Scholar Grant in Applied and Clinical Research from the American Cancer Society (MRSG-12-221-01-CPPB).

The authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose.

Correspondence: Katherine Regan Sterba, PhD, MPH, Department of Public Health Sciences, Medical University of South Carolina, MSC 955, Charleston, SC (

Accepted for publication February 25, 2014.

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