Specialist breast care nurses for supportive care of women with breast cancer

Susanne Cruickshank, Catriona Kennedy, Karen STRICKLAND, Isabel Dosser, Lorraine Dallas

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

79 Citations (Scopus)


Breast Care Nurses (BCNs) are now established internationally, predominantly in well resourced healthcare systems. The role of BCNs
has expanded to reflect the diversity of the population in which they work, and the improvements in survival of women with breast
cancer. Interventions by BCNs aim to support women and help them cope with the impact of the disease on their quality of life.
To assess the effectiveness of individual interventions carried out by BCN’s on quality of life outcomes for women with breast cancer.
Search methods
We searched the Cochrane Breast Cancer Group Specialised Register and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (15 January
2007). We also searched MEDLINE (1966 to September 2006), CINAHL (1982 to September 2006), EMBASE (1980 to September
2006), British Nursing Index (1984 to September 2006), CancerLit (1961 to September 2006), PsycInfo (1967 to September 2006),
Library and Info Science Abstracts (LISA) (1969 to September 2006), Dissertation Abstracts International (only available 2005 to
September 2006). We contacted authors as appropriate.
Selection criteria
Randomised controlled trials assessing the effects of interventions carried out by BCN’s on quality of life outcomes, for women with
breast cancer.
Data collection and analysis
Two authors independently assessed relevant studies for inclusion and undertook data extraction and quality assessment of included
Main results
We included five studies, categorised into three groups. Three studies assessing psychosocial nursing interventions around diagnosis
and early treatment found that the BCN could affect some components of quality of life, such as anxiety and early recognition of
depressive symptoms. However, their impact on social and functional aspects of the disease trajectory was inconclusive. Supportive
care interventions during radiotherapy was assessed by one study which showed that specific BCN interventions can alleviate perceived distress during radiotherapy treatment, but did not improve coping skills, mood or overall quality of life. One study assessed nurse-led
follow-up interventions in which no statistically significant difference was identified for main demographic variables, satisfaction with
care, access to medical care or anxiety and depression.
Authors’ conclusions
There is limited evidence at this time to support the contention that interventions by BCNs assist in the short-term with therecognition
and management of psychological distress for women with breast cance
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-38
Number of pages38
JournalCochrane Database of Systematic Reviews
Publication statusPublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes


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