• cancer;
  • oncology;
  • distress;
  • quality of life;
  • rehabilitation


Objective: Rehabilitation programmes are intended to help cancer patients achieve optimal functioning and live independently. We evaluated whether a psychosocial rehabilitation course was effective in relieving cancer patients' distress and improving their well-being.

Methods: Patients with breast, prostate or colorectal cancer diagnosed within 2 years who had finished primary treatment were randomised to usual care or a 6-day residential course of lectures, discussions and peer groups on issues related to treatment and living with cancer. Changes in self-reported distress (POMS-Sf) and quality of life (EORTC QLQ-C30) from baseline to 1 and 6 months' follow-up were measured. Analyses were adjusted for baseline scores of outcome, cancer site, time since diagnosis, gender, age and education.

Results: Of 507 patients, 452 were included in the analyses, 404 completed the 1-month and 394 the 6-month assessment. Patients in the control group showed greater decreases in total mood disturbance and subscales of the POMS-Sf and showed more improvement in emotional, cognitive and social functioning at both 1 and 6 months and in role functioning at 6 months than the intervention group. A similar pattern was observed in analyses of breast cancer patients only.

Conclusion: A 6-day residential rehabilitation course did not relieve cancer patients' distress or improve their well-being. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.