OBJECTIVE: Evidence on municipality-based cancer rehabilitation is sparse. This longitudinal study explores the following: (1) Rehabilitation needs, (2) effectiveness of municipality-based rehabilitation, and (3) whether rehabilitative services are stratified according to individual needs in breast cancer patients.
METHODS: We collected data from a longitudinal survey among 82 breast cancer patients referred to municipality-based rehabilitation at the Copenhagen Centre for Cancer and Health. Rehabilitation needs, health-related quality of life (HRQoL), and functional status were collected using patient-reported outcomes (PROs) including distress thermometer, problem list, Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-Breast questionnaire (FACT-B), and upper body function with the abbreviated disability of the arm, shoulder, and hand (Quick-DASH) questionnaire. Data collection time points are as follows: entry, follow-up, and end of intervention.
RESULTS: At referral, scores were (mean (range)) distress 4.0 (0-10), problems 9.5 (0-24), and FACT-B 103.0 (49.8-135.5). HRQoL increased during rehabilitation (FACT-B ∆ mean 8.1 points (> MID, p < 0.0001)); 56% had a positive change, 34% no difference, and 11% a decline. Those with the lowest FACT-B entry score had significantly longer duration of rehabilitation (10.9 vs 8.7 months, p < 0.001), higher number of services (7.0 vs 5.3, p < 0.003), and participated more in group-based exercise (+3 sessions: 57% vs 8%, p < 0.001).
CONCLUSION: This is the first study to report on pragmatic municipality-based cancer rehabilitation. The results suggest that services are aimed at patients with rehabilitation needs, improve HRQoL, and are properly stratified to those who need it the most. We suggest future monitoring of municipality-based rehabilitation services to ensure quality of care.