Bradt et al. (2011) Dance/Movement Therapy for Improving Psychological and Physical Outcomes in Cancer Patients

literature type:

journal article


J. Bradt, S.W. Goodill, and C. Dileo. The Cochrane Library. 2011; No. 10: pp 1-34.


Current cancer care increasingly incorporates psychosocial interventions. Cancer patients use dance/movement therapy to learn to accept and reconnect with their bodies, build new self-confidence, enhance self-expression, address feelings of isolation, depression, anger and fear and to strengthen personal resources.

To compare the effects of dance/movement therapy and standard care with standard care alone or standard care and other interventions in patients with cancer.

Search Strategy:
We searched the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL) (The Cochrane Library 2011, Issue 2), MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, PsycINFO, LILACS, Science Citation Index, CancerLit, International Bibliography of Theatre and Dance, Proquest Digital Dissertations,, Current Controlled Trials and the National Research Register (all to March 2011). We handsearched dance/movement therapy and related topics journals, reviewed reference lists and contacted experts. There was no language restriction.

Selection Criteria:
We included all randomized and quasi-randomized controlled trials of dance/movement therapy interventions for improving psychological and physical outcomes in patients with cancer.

Data Collection and Analysis:
Two review authors independently extracted the data and assessed the methodological quality. Results were presented using standardized mean differences.

Main Results:
We included two studies with a total of 68 participants. No evidence was found for an effect of dance/movement therapy on body image in women with breast cancer. The data of one study with moderate risk of bias suggested that dance/movement therapy had a large beneficial effect on participants' quality of life (QoL). The second trial reported a large beneficial effect on fatigue. However, this trial was at high risk of bias. The individual studies did not find support for an effect of dance/movement therapy on mood, distress,and mental health. It is unclear whether this was due to ineffectiveness of the treatment or limited power of the trials. Finally, the results of one study did not find evidence for an effect of dance/movement therapy on shoulder range of motion (ROM) or arm circumference in women who underwent a lumpectomy or breast surgery. However, this was likely due to large within-group variability for shoulder ROM and a limited number of participants with lymphedema.

Authors' Conclusion:
We did not find support for an effect of dance/movement therapy on body image. The findings of one study suggest that dance/movement therapy may have a beneficial effect on QoL. However, the limited number of studies prevents us from drawing conclusions concerning the effects of dance/movement therapy on psychological and physical outcomes in cancer patients.


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