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Open Access Research article

The use of rehabilitation among patients with breast cancer: a retrospective longitudinal cohort study

Yi-Hsien Lin12 and Po-Jung Pan13*

Author Affiliations

1 School of Medicine, National Yang-Ming University, Taipei, Taiwan

2 Division of Radiotherapy, Cheng Hsin General Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan

3 Department of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, National Yang-Ming University Hospital, 260 Xin-Min Road No. 152, I-Lan, Taiwan

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BMC Health Services Research 2012, 12:282  doi:10.1186/1472-6963-12-282

Published: 28 August 2012



Breast cancer is the most common malignancy in women. Along with improvements in treatment, the number of women who survive breast cancer has increased. Rehabilitation can alleviate post-treatment side effects and maintain quality of life. This study aimed to explore the use of rehabilitation among a cohort of patients diagnosed with breast cancer.


A retrospective longitudinal cohort study was conducted using a National Health Insurance (NHI) research database in Taiwan. The study cohort consisted of 632 patients with breast cancer diagnosed in 2005. Their NHI claims over a period spanning 2005 through 2009 were analyzed.


Overall, 39.6% of the cohort received rehabilitation therapy, with 9,691 rehabilitation visits claimed (an average of 38.8 visits per user). The prevalence of rehabilitation service use among the cohort was 16.5%, 13.3%, 13.0%, 13.3%, and 12.8% in the years 2005 through 2009, respectively. The average number of visits per rehabilitation user was 16.8, 25.0, 31.1, 24.2, and 23.8 in the years 2005 through 2009, respectively. Most rehabilitation therapy occurred as an outpatient service (96.0%). Physical therapy was the most commonly used form of rehabilitation (84.2%), followed by occupational therapy (15.4%). The most frequently recorded diagnoses were malignant neoplasm of the female breast, peripheral enthesopathies and allied syndromes, and osteoarthrosis and allied disorders.


Only a small proportion of patients with breast cancer received rehabilitation therapy in the first five years after diagnosis. The average number of rehabilitation visits per user peaked in the third year after diagnosis.

Breast cancer; Rehabilitation; Physical therapy; Health insurance