Nurse-led telephone follow-up and an educational group programme after breast cancer treatment: Results of a 2 x 2 randomised controlled trial

M. L. Kimman*, C. D. Dirksen, A. C. Voogd, P. Falger, Brigitte C. M. Gijsen, M. Thuring, A. Lenssen, F. van der Ent, J. Verkeyn, C. Haekens, P. Hupperets, J. K. S. Nuytinck, Y.E.A. van Riet, S.J. Brenninkmeijer, Luc J. E. E. Scheijmans, A. Kessels, Ph Lambin, L. J. Boersma

*Corresponding author for this work

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Objective: To investigate whether frequent hospital follow-up in the first year after breast cancer treatment might partly be replaced by nurse-led telephone follow-up without deteriorating health-related quality of life (HRQoL), and whether a short educational group programme (EGP) would enhance HRQoL. Patients and methods: A multicentre pragmatic randomised controlled trial (RCT) with a 2 x 2 factorial design was performed among 320 breast cancer patients who were treated with curative intent. Participants were randomised to follow-up care as usual (3-monthly outpatient clinic visits), nurse-led telephone follow-up, or the former strategies combined with an educational group programme. The primary outcome for both interventions was HRQoL, measured by EORTC QLQ-C30. Secondary outcomes were role and emotional functioning and feelings of control and anxiety. Results: Data of 299 patients were available for evaluation. There was no significant difference in HRQoL between nurse-led telephone and hospital follow-up at 12 months after treatment (p = 0.42; 95% confidence interval (CI) for difference: -1.93-4.64) and neither between follow-up with or without EGP (p = 0.86; 95% CI for difference: -3.59-3.00). Furthermore, no differences between the intervention groups and their corresponding control groups were found in role and emotional functioning, and feelings of control and anxiety (all p-values >0.05). Conclusion: Replacement of most hospital follow-up visits in the first year after breast cancer treatment by nurse-led telephone follow-up does not impede patient outcomes. Hence, nurse-led telephone follow-up seems an appropriate way to reduce clinic visits and represents an accepted alternative strategy. An EGP does not unequivocally affect positive HRQoL outcomes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1027-1036
JournalEuropean Journal of Cancer
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - May 2011


  • Breast neoplasms
  • Follow-up
  • Psychosocial support
  • Quality of life
  • Effectiveness

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