We aimed to (a) investigate the interplay between depression, symptoms and level of functioning, and (b) understand the paths through which they influence health related quality of life (QOL) during the first year of rehabilitation period of early breast cancer. A network analysis method was used. The population consisted of 487 women aged 35–68 years, who had recently completed adjuvant chemotherapy or started endocrine therapy for early breast cancer. At baseline and at the first year from randomization QOL, symptomatology and functioning by the EORTC QLQ-C30 and BR-23 questionnaires, and depression by the Finnish version of Beck's 13-item depression scale, were collected. The multivariate interplay between the related scales was analysed via regularized partial correlation networks (graphical LASSO). The median global quality of life (gQoL) at baseline was 69.9 ± 19.0 (16.7–100) and improved to 74.9 ± 19.0 (0–100) after 1 year. Scales related to mental health (emotional functioning, cognitive functioning, depression, insomnia, body image, future perspective) were clustered together at both time points. Fatigue was mediated through a different route, having the strongest connection with physical functioning and no direct connection with depression. Multiple paths existed connecting symptoms and functioning types with gQoL. Factors with the strongest connections to gQoL included: social functioning, depression and fatigue at baseline; emotional functioning and fatigue at month 12. Overall, the most important nodes were depression, gQoL and fatigue. The graphical LASSO network analysis revealed that scales related to fatigue and emotional health had the strongest associations to the EORTC QLQ-C30 gQoL score. When we plan interventions for patients with impaired QOL it is important to consider both psychological support and interventions that improve fatigue and physical function like exercise. Trial registration: http://www.clinicaltrials.gov/ (identifier number NCT00639210).
- Jufo-taso 1
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