A telephone-based, peer-support program can reduce distress and unmet information needs among women with a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation, according to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Victoria M. White, Ph.D., from the University of Melbourne in Australia, and colleagues examined the effectiveness of an intervention involving volunteers who contacted BRCA1/2-positive women multiple times over a four-month period to provide informational, emotional, and practical support.

Participants who completed a baseline questionnaire and reported interest in talking to other mutation carriers were assigned to the usual-care group (UCG; 102 participants) or the intervention group (IG; 105 participants).

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The researchers observed a greater decrease in breast cancer distress scores in the IG than the UCG at the end of the intervention (mean difference, −5.96; P = 0.002) and two months later (mean difference, −3.94; P = 0.04). Unmet information needs decreased more in the IG versus the UCG (P < 0.01), with unmet needs lower in the IG after the intervention.

In the IG versus the UCG there was a greater decrease in Cognitive Appraisals About Genetic Testing stress subscale scores (P = 0.02), with significantly lower scores in the IG versus the UCG after the intervention (P < 0.01).

“The intervention is effective in reducing distress and unmet information needs for this group of women,” the authors write.


  1. White, Victoria M., et al. “Randomized Controlled Trial of a Telephone-Based Peer-Support Program for Women Carrying a BRCA1 or BRCA2 Mutation: Impact on Psychological Distress.” Journal of Clinical Oncology. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2013.54.1607. November 17, 2014.