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Cancer Pract. 2001 Jan-Feb;9(1):19-26.

Effect of group therapy for breast cancer on healthcare utilization.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada.



The purpose of this study was to determine whether participation in a group psychosocial intervention by patients with breast cancer would result in an improvement in psychological measures and in reduced billings in general medical expenses.


Eligible women who had completed treatment for stage 0, I, or II primary breast cancer were prospectively and randomly assigned to either the intervention (n=46) or control (n=43) group. Both groups received the usual psychosocial care; however, the intervention group also participated in six weekly cognitive/behavioral psychosocial meetings. All were assessed on psychiatric symptoms, mood, depression, and coping strategies at four time periods: pre-intervention, post-intervention, 1-year follow-up, and 2-year follow-up. Alberta Healthcare billing records were obtained covering the 2-year follow-up period to determine the amount billed per person over the course of the study.


Women in the intervention group had less depression, less overall mood disturbance, better overall quality of life, and fewer psychiatric symptoms than those in the control group, beginning immediately post-intervention and remaining so at 2 years post-intervention. Billing in the intervention group was an average of $147 less than in the control group, a 23.5% reduction.


This is the first study to show that a psychosocial intervention can reduce direct healthcare billings in a sample of patients with cancer. Importantly, these findings help to justify the routine availability of such programs in cancer treatment facilities worldwide.

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