We report a clinical trial comparing the effectiveness of education-based and peer discussion–based group interventions on adjustment to breast cancer.
Women with stage I, II, or III breast cancer (n=312) were randomly assigned to 1 of 4 group conditions: control, education, peer discussion, or education plus peer discussion (combination). Seven groups (each comprising 8-12 women) were conducted in each of the 4 conditions (28 groups total). Adjustment was measured before the intervention, immediately after the intervention, and 6 months after the intervention.
Consistently positive effects on adjustment were seen in the education groups both immediately following and 6 months after the intervention. There were no benefits of participation in peer discussion groups, and some indications of adverse effects on adjustment at both follow-up examinations. The effects could be explained by changes in self-esteem, body image, and intrusive thoughts about the illness.
Education-based group interventions facilitated the initial adjustment of women diagnosed with early stage breast cancer. There was no evidence of benefits from peer discussion group interventions.