A Pilot Randomized Trial Evaluating Lymphedema Self-Measurement with Bioelectrical Impedance, Self-Care Adherence, and Health Outcomes


Background: Less than half of breast cancer survivors with lymphedema perform self-care as directed. Effective lymphedema self-care is required to obtain acceptable health outcomes. Self-Regulation Theory suggests that objective self-measurement of physiological conditions is necessary to promote self-regulation/self-care. Bioelectric Impedance Spectroscopy (BIS) represents a potential self-measurement method for arm lymphedema. The purpose of this pilot study was to examine the impact of arm self-measurement on daily self-care activities and health outcomes in breast cancer survivors with lymphedema. Methods and Results: A pilot randomized clinical trial compared outcomes between breast cancer survivors with lymphedema who self-monitored for 3 months and breast cancer survivors with lymphedema who did not self-monitor. Data were collected at baseline, months 1, 2, 3, and 4. Eighty-six women with lymphedema were screened: 62 were eligible, 50 were enrolled, 10 withdrew, and 1 had incomplete data, thus N=39. No between group differences were noted in participant characteristics. The self-monitored group had higher days of garment use (p=0.005) that remained stable after self-monitoring stopped. The median number of days of simple manual lymphatic drainage increased in the intervention group (p=0.004) with a downward trend after self-monitoring ceased. Conclusions: Objective self-monitoring of arms using BIS is possible. Self-monitoring may positively impact self-care behaviors. Highly symptomatic patients may require coaching or other psychological support to improve their self-care. Studies that combine a cognitive behavioral therapy component along with self-measurement should be considered as potential interventions to impact lymphedema self-care. Other applications of self-monitoring warrant investigation.

Ridner, SH; Shih, YCT; Doersam, JK; et al.
Lymphatic Research and Biology 12(4): 258-266 Dec 2014