Assessing the effect of beauty treatments on psychological distress, body image, and coping: a longitudinal study of patients undergoing surgical procedures for breast cancer



Introduction: Women with breast cancer may have significant problems adjusting to disease and therapy due to their association with significant changes in body image and sexuality. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of beauty treatments in combination with routine cancer care.

Methods: One hundred women with breast cancer were randomly assigned to a group receiving beauty treatments during hospitalization or a control group. Psychological distress, body image and coping were assessed twice during the hospitalization period: the day before surgery (baseline) and 6 days later (Time 1). A follow-up assessment was performed three months later (Time 2).

Results: Three months after surgery, patients who had received beauty treatments reported higher body-image scores than the control group, but there was no effect in psychological distress. Helplessness/hopelessness increased over time in the control group but not in the group receiving beauty treatments.

Conclusion: Overall, this study provides evidence of the usefulness of beauty treatments for breast-cancer patients, in combination with routine care. Although these treatments did not seem to alleviate psychological distress directly, they had a beneficial impact on body image and may strengthen patients' social support and self-esteem. Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.