Survivors of breast cancer (SBC) with breast cancer–related lymphedema (BCRL) have demonstrated neuromusculoskeletal restrictions, sensorimotor impairments, postural instability, and balance deficits. To date, there have been no studies that investigate outcome measures (OMs) used by certified lymphedema therapists (CLTs) with SBC with BCRL.
The purposes of this study were to (1) determine types of OMs used and their frequency of use by CLTs with SBC with BCRL and their differences between therapy professions, and (2) identify unique characteristic predictors for use of OMs.
Cross-sectional online survey research design. Electronic surveys were distributed to CLTs from various institutions. Data from 70 physical therapists (PTs) and 41 occupational therapists were analyzed from 130 completed surveys.
Sixteen OMs used most often assessed joint function, flexibility, strength, pain, volume, sensation, tissue consistency, body composition, health-related quality of life, and upper quadrant function. There were differences between PTs and occupational therapists in use of OMs. Lymphology Association of North America certification, practice setting, and profession (physical therapy and occupational therapy) predicted the use of some OMs.
This study identified individual OMs used on SBC with BCRL in clinical practice among interdisciplinary CLTs. The number of OMs used to assess body functions and structures exceed those OMs for activities and participation, which may be influenced by CLT profession, Lymphology Association of North America certification, and level of highest degree.