Journal of Behavioral Medicine

, Volume 29, Issue 1, pp 17–27

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Techniques for Distress and Pain in Breast Cancer Patients: A Meta-Analysis


DOI: 10.1007/s10865-005-9036-1

Cite this article as:
Tatrow, K. & Montgomery, G.H. J Behav Med (2006) 29: 17. doi:10.1007/s10865-005-9036-1

This meta-analysis is the first to examine cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) techniques for distress and pain specifically in breast cancer patients. Twenty studies that used CBT techniques with breast cancer patients were identified and effect sizes were calculated to determine (1) whether CBT techniques have a significant impact on distress and pain, (2) if individual or group treatments are more effective, (3) whether severity of cancer diagnosis influences distress and pain outcomes, and, (4) if there is a relationship between CBT technique efficacy for distress and pain. Results revealed effect sizes of d = 0.31 for distress (p < 0.05) and .49 for pain (p < 0.05), indicating that 62 and 69% of breast cancer patients in the CBT techniques treatment groups had less distress and less pain (respectively) relative to the control groups. Studies with individual treatment approaches had significantly larger effects compared to studies that employed group approaches for distress (p = 0.04), but not for pain (p > 0.05). There were no significant differences in effects between those with or without metastases (p > 0.05). The correlation between effect sizes for distress and pain was not significant (p = 0.07). Overall, the results support the use of CBT techniques administered individually to manage distress and pain in breast cancer patients. However, more well-designed studies are needed.


Breast cancer distress pain cognitive behavioral meta-analysis 

Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, Inc 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Psychology DepartmentGood Shepherd Rehabilitation HospitalAllentownUSA
  2. 2.Integrative Behavioral Medicine Program, Department of Oncological SciencesMount Sinai School of MedicineNew YorkUSA
  3. 3.Biobehavioral Medicine Program, Department of Oncological SciencesMount Sinai School of MedicineNew YorkUSA
  4. 4.Psychology Department, Good Shepherd Rehabilitation HospitalPennsylvaniaUSA

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