Biobehavioral, immune, and health benefits following recurrence for psychological intervention participants

Barbara L. Andersen, Lisa M. Thornton, Charles L. Shapiro, William B. Farrar, Bethany L. Mundy, Hae Chung Yang, William E. Carson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

138 Scopus citations


Purpose: A clinical trial was designed to test the hypothesis that a psychological intervention could reduce the risk of cancer recurrence. Newly diagnosed regional breast cancer patients (n = 227) were randomized to the intervention-with-assessment or the assessment-only arm. The intervention had positive psychological, social, immune, and health benefits, and after a median of 11 years the intervention arm was found to have reduced the risk of recurrence (hazard ratio, 0.55; P = 0.034). In follow-up, we hypothesized that the intervention arm might also show longer survival after recurrence. If observed, we then would examine potential biobehavioral mechanisms. Experimental Design: All patients were followed; 62 recurred. Survival analyses included all 62. Upon recurrence diagnosis, those available for further biobehavioral study were accrued (n = 41, 23 intervention and 18 assessment). For those 41, psychological, social, adherence, health, and immune (natural killer cell cytotoxicity, T-cell proliferation) data were collected at recurrence diagnosis and 4, 8, and 12 months later. Results: Intent-to-treat analysis revealed reduced risk of death following recurrence for the intervention arm (hazard ratio, 0.41; P = 0.014). Mixed-effects follow-up analyses with biobehavioral data showed that all patients responded with significant psychological distress at recurrence diagnosis, but thereafter only the intervention arm improved (P values < 0.023). Immune indices were significantly higher for the intervention arm at 12 months (P values < 0.017). Conclusions: Hazards analyses augment previous findings in showing improved survival for the intervention arm after recurrence. Follow-up analyses showing biobehavioral advantages for the intervention arm contribute to our understanding of how improved survival was achieved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3270-3278
Number of pages9
JournalClinical Cancer Research
Issue number12
StatePublished - 15 Jun 2010
Externally publishedYes


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