With the growing number of cancer survivors worldwide the need for high quality cancer rehabilitation after primary treatment is steadily increasing. The aim of the present study was to investigate change of psychological distress and health-related quality of life (HRQOL) during multidisciplinary inpatient cancer rehabilitation in a large sample of cancer survivors suffering from different cancer entities.
We analyzed data from routine HRQOL and distress monitoring at a cancer inpatient rehabilitation center. Cancer survivors completed the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) Quality of Life Questionnaire Core-30 (EORTC QLQ-C30) and the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS) before and after multidisciplinary rehabilitation treatment. Changes of patients’ functioning and symptoms were analyzed using repeated measures analysis of variance (ANOVA) and effect sizes (Cohens’ d). Patients’ pretreatment and posttreatment scores were compared to reference data from the German general population.
A total of 939 patients (mean age 58.6 years, SD 11.9 years; 59.9% women) who attended rehabilitation from January 2014 to September 2015 were included in the analysis. We found clinically meaningful improvement in almost all domains of the EORTC QLQ-C30 as well as in anxiety and depression (HADS). The largest improvements were found for the QLQ-C30 subscales emotional functioning (d = 0.78), fatigue (d = 0.65), and social functioning (d = 0.56).
We found clinically meaningful improvements of patients’ HRQOL, anxiety and depression during an oncological inpatient rehabilitation treatment. Our results warrant further prospective controlled studies to evaluate the long-term effectiveness of inpatient rehabilitation.