Randomized trial of therapeutic group by teleconference

African American women with breast cancer


  • At the time a portion of this research was conducted, Sue P. Heiney was employed as Manager of Psychosocial Oncology at Palmetto Health Cancer Centers in Columbia, SC.

  • The content of this article is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Cancer Institute or the National Institutes of Health.



The effects of a therapeutic group by teleconference for African American women with breast cancer have not been documented, although the benefits of therapeutic groups for European women are well established. African American women with breast cancer may experience social disconnection, a sense of being cut off from partners, family, and friends because of side effects of treatment and fatalistic beliefs about cancer. A therapeutic group by teleconference may counteract these problems and improve social connection.


A randomized trial design stratified by treatment type was used. Data were collected at baseline, at the end of the intervention, and 16 weeks from baseline. Repeated-measures, fixed-factor analyses of covariance were used for each outcome. The between-subject factors were group and replicate set, and the within-subject factor was time. Physical well being and educational level differed significantly between the 2 groups at baseline and were used as covariates.


The mixed-model analysis of the outcome variables revealed significant changes over time for knowledge (P ≤ .001), with higher scores on knowledge observed for the control group. Group-by-time interactions were observed for fatalism (P = .0276), fear (P = .0163), and social connection (P = .0174) as measured by the Social Well Being subscale from the Functional Assessment of Cancer Treatment-Breast Cancer Version. No group-by-time interaction was observed for social connection as measured by the Social Support Questionnaire. Social connection measured with the Social Well Being subscale improved significantly in the intervention group, whereas fatalism and fear significantly decreased.


In this study, the authors documented the benefits of a therapeutic group by teleconference, a novel way to provide support for African American women with breast cancer. Further research should include a behavioral outcome, such as treatment adherence. Cancer 2012. © 2011 American Cancer Society.