Effects of Group Psychosocial Intervention on Body Image and Quality of Life in Breast Cancer Survivors


Key Points

  • The Restoring Body Image After Cancer (ReBIC) intervention improved concern/distress about body appearance and reduced body stigma.
  • The intervention also improved breast cancer–related quality of life.

In a study reported in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, Esplen et al found that a group psychosocial intervention was effective in improving body image concerns and breast cancer–related quality of life among breast cancer survivors.

Study Details

In the study, 194 breast cancer survivors seen at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre at University Health Network and the Odette Cancer Centre at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto who expressed concerns about negative body image or difficulties with sexual functioning were randomized 2:1 to the manual-based Restoring Body Image After Cancer (ReBIC) intervention (n = 131) or standard care plus educational reading materials (n = 63). The 8-week intervention consisted of expressive guided-imagery exercises integrated into group therapy; the intervention focuses on exploration of identity, development of new self-schemas, and personal growth, and includes an educational component on social and cultural factors affecting women’s self-esteem and body image.

Outcomes were assessed by The Body Image Scale, Body Image After Breast Cancer Questionnaire, Female Sexual Function Index, and Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy (FACT)–Breast. Patients were assessed postintervention, at 6 months, and at 1 year. Significance was set at P = .01 for between-group comparisons.


Women in the intervention group reported significantly less concern/distress about body appearance at 1 year (P < .01), decreased body stigma at postintervention assessment (P < .01), a lower level of breast cancer–related concerns at 1 year (P < .01), and improved breast cancer–related quality of life at 1 year (P < .01). No significant difference in sexual functioning was observed between groups.

The investigators concluded, “Restoring Body Image After Cancer (ReBIC), a group intervention using guided imagery within a group-therapy approach, is an effective method for addressing [body image]-related concerns and quality of life post-[breast cancer]. The manual-based intervention can be easily adapted to both cancer centers and primary care settings.”

The study was supported by grants from the Canadian Breast Cancer Research Alliance and Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation.

Mary Jane Esplen, PhD, of the de Souza Institute, University Health Network, and University of Toronto, is the corresponding author for the Journal of Clinical Oncology article. 

The content in this post has not been reviewed by the American Society of Clinical Oncology, Inc. (ASCO®) and does not necessarily reflect the ideas and opinions of ASCO®.