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The psychosocial determinants of quality of life in breast cancer survivors: A scoping review

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Linda Sharp



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© 2020 The Author(s).Background: Breast cancer care today involves state-of-the-art biomedical treatment but can fail to address the broader psychosocial and quality-of-life (QoL) issues associated with the transition to breast cancer survivorship. This scoping review examines the evidence on the influence of psychosocial determinants on QoL in breast cancer survivors. Methods: Scoping review methodology was used to: (1) identify the research question(s); (2) identify relevant studies; (3) undertake study selection; (4) extract data; (5) collate, summarise and report the results. Results: A total of 33 studies met the inclusion criteria. The majority of studies were conducted in the US (n = 22, 67%) and were mainly cross-sectional (n = 26, 79%). Sixteen psychosocial determinants of QoL were identified. Social support (n = 14, 42%), depression (n = 7, 21%) and future appraisal and perspective (n = 7, 21%) were the most frequently investigated determinants. Twelve different QoL measures were used. A range of different measurement tools were also used per psychosocial determinant (weighted average = 6). The 14 studies that measured the influence of social support on QoL employed 10 different measures of social support and 7 different measures of QoL. In general, across all 33 studies, a higher level of a positive influence and a lower level of a negative influence of a psychosocial determinant was associated with a better QoL e.g. higher social support and lower levels of depression were associated with a higher/better QoL. For some determinants such as spirituality and coping skills the influence on QoL varied, but these determinants were less commonly investigated. Conclusion: Consensus around measures of QoL and psychological determinants would be valuable and would enable research to determine the influence of psychosocial determinants on QoL adequately. Research in other healthcare settings beyond the US is required, in order to understand the influence of organisation and follow-up clinical and supportive care on psychosocial determinants and QoL and to improve the quality of care in breast cancer survivors.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Culbertson MG, Bennett K, Kelly CM, Sharp L, Cahir C

Publication type: Review

Publication status: Published

Journal: BMC Cancer

Year: 2020

Volume: 20

Issue: 1

Online publication date: 02/10/2020

Acceptance date: 08/09/2020

ISSN (print): elec-tronic

Publisher: BioMed Central Ltd


DOI: 10.1186/s12885-020-07389-w

PubMed id: 33008323