Body image assessment in oncology: an update review

Barbara Muzzatti, Maria Antonietta Annunziata

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Body image is a psychological dimension of the experience of cancer, which varies along the clinical features of the disease itself and in its phases, as well as its effects in terms of functioning and quality of life. In 2012, Supportive Care in Cancer published a review addressing the relevance, application, and instruments of body image assessment for oncological settings. Since then, many research papers have been published on this topic and new questionnaires for assessing body image in oncology are now available. This contribution aims to offer both researchers and clinicians an updated review of body image assessment tools. Methods: We searched PubMed, Psychology and Behavioral Sciences Collection, and Scopus databases, which allowed us to identify pertinent papers, classified according to the body image tool to which they refer. We then extracted the characteristics and the psychometric properties from each study. Results: From the 657 initial records, 23 papers met the selection criteria referring to 8 body image measurements. Although increasing in number and being the subject of a growing number of studies, these papers are still not exhaustive with respect to the verified psychometric properties. In particular, it is worth noting that their applicability to all types of cancer is limited and that a focus on women with breast cancer prevails. Conclusion: A complete validation (including a study of all types of validity and reliability) and an indication of the case results are not currently available for any of the eight instruments described. However, studies designed to apply body image assessment tools to patients other than those experiencing breast cancer as well to cultural contexts other than English-speaking countries, are increasing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1019-1029
Number of pages11
JournalSupportive Care in Cancer
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Body image
  • Cancer
  • Psychometrics
  • Reliability
  • Validity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology


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