Psychosocial interventions for men with prostate cancer: A Cochrane systematic review

Kader Parahoo, Suzanne McDonough, Eilis McCaughan, Jane Noyes, Cherith Semple, Elizabeth J. Halstead, Molly M. Neuberger, Philipp Dahm

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


To evaluate the effectiveness of psychosocial interventions for men with prostate cancer in improving quality of life (QoL), self-efficacy and knowledge and in reducing distress, uncertainty and depression. We searched for trials using a range of electronic databases including the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL), MEDLINE, EMBASE and PsycINFO to October 2013, together with hand searching of journals and reference lists. Randomised controlled trials were eligible if they included psychosocial interventions that explicitly used one or a combination of the following approaches: cognitive behavioural, psycho-educational, supportive and counselling. Interventions had to be delivered or facilitated by trained or lay personnel. Our outcomes were an improvement in QoL, self-efficacy and knowledge and a reduction in distress, uncertainty and depression. Pairs of review authors independently extracted data and assessed risk of bias. We analysed data using standardised mean differences (SMDs), random-effects models and 95% confidence intervals (CIs). In all, 19 studies with a total of 3 204 men, with a diagnosis of prostate cancer, comparing psychosocial interventions vs usual care were included in this review. Men in the psychosocial intervention group had a small, statistically significant improvement in the physical component of general health-related QoL (GHQoL) at end of intervention (SMD 0.12, 95% CI 0.01-0.22) based on low quality evidence. There was no clear evidence of benefit associated with psychosocial interventions for the mental component of GHQoL at end of intervention (SMD -0.04, 95% CI -0.15 to 0.06) based on moderate quality evidence. At end of intervention, cancer-related QoL showed a small improvement after psychosocial interventions (SMD 0.21, 95% CI 0.04-0.39). For prostate cancer-specific and symptom-related QoL, the differences between intervention and control groups were not significant. There was no clear evidence that psychosocial interventions were beneficial in improving self-efficacy at end of intervention (SMD 0.16, 95% CI -0.05 to 0.38) based on very low quality evidence. Men in the psychosocial intervention group had a moderate increase in prostate cancer knowledge at end of intervention (SMD 0.51, 95% CI 0.32-0.71) based on very low quality evidence. A small increase in knowledge with psychosocial interventions was noted at 3 months after intervention (SMD 0.31, 95% CI 0.04-0.58). The results for uncertainty (SMD -0.05, 95% CI -0.35 to 0.26) and distress (SMD 0.02, 95% CI -0.11 to 0.15) at end of intervention were compatible with both benefit and harm based on very low quality evidence. Finally, there was no clear evidence of benefit associated with psychosocial interventions for depression at end of intervention (SMD -0.18, 95% CI -0.51 to 0.15) based on very low quality evidence. The overall risk of bias in the included studies was unclear or high, primarily as the result of performance bias. No data about stage of disease or treatment with androgen-deprivation therapy were extractable for subgroup analysis. Only one study addressed adverse effects. Overall, this review shows that psychosocial interventions may have small, short-term beneficial effects on certain domains of wellbeing, as measured by the physical component of GHQoL and cancer-related QoL when compared with usual care. Prostate cancer knowledge was also increased. However, this review failed to show a statistically significant effect on other domains such as symptom-related QoL, self-efficacy, uncertainty, distress or depression. Moreover, when beneficial effects were seen, it remained uncertain whether the magnitude of effect was large enough to be considered clinically important. The quality of evidence for most outcomes was rated as very low according to the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development, and Evaluation (GRADE) system, reflecting study limitations, loss to follow-up, study heterogeneity and small sample sizes. We were unable to perform meaningful subgroup analyses based on disease stage or treatment method. Although some findings of this review are encouraging, they do not provide sufficiently strong evidence to permit meaningful conclusions about the effects of these interventions in men with prostate cancer. Additional well executed and transparently reported research studies are necessary to establish the role of psychosocial interventions in men with prostate cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)174-183
Number of pages10
JournalBJU International
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 The Authors BJU International © 2014 BJU International Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


  • psychosocial intervention
  • quality of life
  • randomised controlled trial
  • self-efficacy
  • uncertainty


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