Background: Prostate cancer is the second most common form of cancer affecting men today. Currently, 98% of men diagnosed with prostate cancer survive for 10 or more years after being diagnosed with prostate cancer. The prolonged course of the disease makes interventions aimed at improving quality of life an essential component of prostate cancer treatment. There is a significant body of literature that suggests that support groups can improve the quality of life of cancer patients. However, because the bulk of the studies regarding cancer support groups focused on women with breast cancer, it is unclear how applicable the results are to men with prostate cancer.
Methods: A thorough search of the medical literature was conducted using, Medline (Ovid), CINAHL, Google Scholar, and Web of Science with the keywords: prostate cancer, prostate neoplasm, support group, peer group, and self-help group. Articles that reported primary data, included only men with prostate cancer, and measured changes in quality of life resulting from support group involvement were included. All articles were assessed for quality using the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE) system and assigned a rating of high, medium, low, or very low.
Results: Four studies met the criteria for inclusion in this review. Three of the papers were randomized control trials and one was a cohort study. Each of the studies used a different support group format and each of them found that support group participation resulted in statistically significant improvement in multiple areas related to quality of life.
Conclusion: Participation in a prostate cancer support group is likely to result in improved quality of life for men with prostate cancer. At this time there is insufficient evidence to demonstrate the relative efficacy of one support group format over another; however, men are likely to receive some benefit regardless of format. Given the low cost of support group participation and the low risk involved, it is reasonable to recommend that men with prostate cancer participate in a support group.
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