Objective: To assess if participation by patients in a head and neck cancer support group improves perceived quality of life (QOL). Study design and setting: Subjects for this study included 47 patients at a tertiary Veterans Affairs Medical Center who were previously treated for head and neck cancer. This was a quasi-experimental, post-test study comparing the QOL of 24 patients who participated in a head and neck cancer support group with 23 patients who did not participate. The validated University of Michigan Head and Neck Quality of Life (HNQOL) instrument was used to evaluate head and neck cancer-related QOL. Results: Patients who participated in the head and neck cancer support group exhibited significantly better scores in the domains of eating, emotion, and pain as well as in the global bother and response to treatment questions of the HNQOL instrument compared with those patients who did not participate. Additional subgroup analysis comparing age, type of treatment, and length of time since cancer diagnosis suggests that these variables were less important predictors of QOL than was support group participation. Conclusions: Our findings suggest that patient participation in a head and neck cancer support group is associated with improved QOL. Significance: Support groups may be beneficial in improving QOL after head and neck cancer treatment.
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