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J Clin Oncol. 2006 Feb 1;24(4):635-42.

Impacting quality of life for patients with advanced cancer with a structured multidisciplinary intervention: a randomized controlled trial.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry and Psychology, Mayo Clinic Cancer Center, and Medical Social Services, Mayo Clinic, Rochester MN 55905, USA. rummans.teresa@mayo.edu



The primary goal of this study was to evaluate the feasibility and effectiveness of a structured, multidisciplinary intervention targeted to maintain the overall quality of life (QOL), which is more comprehensive than psychosocial distress, of patients undergoing radiation therapy for advanced-stage cancer.


Radiation therapy patients with advanced cancer and an estimated 5-year survival rate of 0% to 50% were randomly assigned to either an eight-session structured multidisciplinary intervention arm or a standard care arm. The eight 90-minute sessions addressed the five domains of QOL including cognitive, physical, emotional, spiritual, and social functioning. The primary end point of maintaining overall QOL was assessed by a single-item linear analog scale (Linear Analog Scale of Assessment or modified Spitzer Uniscale). QOL was assessed at baseline, week 4 (end of multidisciplinary intervention), week 8, and week 27.


Of the 103 participants, overall QOL at week 4 was maintained by the patients in the intervention (n = 49), whereas QOL at week 4 significantly decreased for patients in the control group (n = 54). This change reflected a 3-point increase from baseline in the intervention group and a 9-point decrease from baseline in the control group (P = .009). Intervention participants maintained their QOL, and controls gradually returned to baseline by the end of the 6-month follow-up period.


Although intervention participants maintained and actually improved their QOL during radiation therapy, control participants experienced a significant decrease in their QOL. Thus, a structured multidisciplinary intervention can help maintain or even improve QOL in patients with advanced cancer who are undergoing cancer treatment.

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