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acceptance and commitment therapy, breast neoplasms, meta-analysis, physiology, psychology, systematic review



  1. Li, Hangting
  2. Wu, Jia
  3. Ni, Qiqi
  4. Zhang, Jun
  5. Wang, Yun
  6. He, Guijuan


Background: The physical and psychological well-being of patients with breast cancer is an important global issue. Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) aims to equip patients with the skills to respond and adapt to difficult circumstances. However, the extent of the physical and psychological outcomes of this therapy in patients with breast cancer remains unclear.


Objectives: The aim of the study was to summarize available evidence and assess the efficacy of ACT on physiological and psychological outcomes in patients with breast cancer.


Methods: Published randomized controlled studies were identified in MEDLINE, PsycInfo, Embase, Web of Science, CINAHL, and CNKI from inception to December 2019 and Cochrane Library, AMED, and Clinical from inception to September 2020. Methodological rigor was assessed by two reviewers using the Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Review of Interventions. Sufficient data were statistically pooled with review manager; otherwise, a narrative summary was used.


Results: Thirteen trials were included in the review. Methodological quality varied across the studies. Meta-analyses demonstrated that ACT had moderate to large effects on reducing anxiety, depression, and stress and improving hope. Sensitivity analyses reached results similar to those of the meta-analyses. However, the effects of ACT on the physiological symptoms, fear of cancer recurrence, and psychological flexibility of patients with breast cancer remain inconclusive.


Discussion: ACT has beneficial effects on the anxiety, depression, stress, and hope of patients with breast cancer. The evidence of ACT on physiological symptoms, fear of cancer recurrence, and psychological flexibility needs to be treated with caution. Further studies are needed and should consider different delivery forms and also explore the mechanisms of each component of ACT under different cultural contexts.