Content » Vol 47, Issue 2

Review article

What is covered by ”cancer rehabilitation” in PubMed? A review of randomized controlled trials 1990–2011

Sævar Berg Gudbergsson, Alv A. Dahl, Jon Håvard Loge, Lene Thorsen , Line M. Oldervoll , Ellen K. Grov
Health Information and Education, Montebello Center, 2610 Mesnali, Norway. E-mail:
DOI: 10.2340/16501977-1902


Objective: This focused review examines randomized controlled studies included by the term “cancer rehabilitation” in PubMed. The research questions concern the type of interventions performed and their methodological quality.
Design: Using the Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) terms: neoplasm AND rehabilitation, all articles with randomized controlled studies that included adult cancer patients, written in English, were extracted from PubMed. Papers covering physical exercise, psychiatric/psychological treatment or social support only were excluded as they had been reviewed recently. Abstracts and papers were assessed by 3 pairs of reviewers, and descriptive information was extracted systematically. Methodological quality was rated on a 10-item index scale, and the cut-off for acceptable quality was set at ≥ 8.
Results: A total of 132 (19%) of the 683 identified papers met the eligibility criteria and were assessed in detail. The papers were grouped into 5 thematic categories: 44 physical; 15 art and expressive; 47 psycho-educative; 21 emotionally supportive; and 5 others. Good quality of design was observed in 32 studies, 18 of them uni-dimensional and 14 multi-dimensional.
Conclusion: Published randomized controlled studies on cancer rehabilitation are heterogeneous in terms of content and samples, and are mostly characterized by suboptimal design quality. Future studies should be more specific and well-designed with sufficient statistical strength.

Lay Abstract


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