A multicenter study of supportive-expressive group therapy for women with BRCA1/BRCA2 mutations




Women with a BRCA1/BRCA2 mutation experience significant challenges. These include decision-making regarding surgical options and notification to offspring and family, along with a sense of isolation, which may lead to psychological and emotional distress. The current study developed, standardized, and conducted preliminary testing of a supportive-expressive group therapy intervention designed to address these challenges.


Seventy women with a BRCA1/BRCA2 mutation recruited from familial cancer risk clinics participated in 12 sessions of supportive-expressive group therapy that lasted 6 months. Before and after measures of psychosocial functioning, knowledge, and surveillance/surgery activities were completed.


Sixty-seven women completed the intervention. Significant improvements were observed in psychosocial functioning: cancer worries (P = 0.005), anxiety (P = 0.033), and depression (P = 0.015). Knowledge level and surveillance levels were high at baseline and there were no significant changes postintervention. A significant number of women made decisions concerning prophylactic surgery (oophorectomy/mastectomy) during and after the intervention.


The feasibility of a supportive-expressive group for BRCA1/BRCA2 mutation carriers was demonstrated. Findings from the study are consistent with an effective intervention. However, further research is required using a randomized controlled study design. Cancer 2004. © 2004 American Cancer Society.