Best Practices for BREAST-Q Research: A Systematic Review of Study Methodology Journal Articles uri icon

  • Overview
  • Research
  • Identity
  • Additional Document Info
  • View All


  • Background: Data heterogeneity and methodologic errors hinder the ability to draw clinically meaningful conclusions from studies using the BREAST-Q Reconstruction Module patient-reported outcome measure. In this systematic review, the authors evaluate the quality of BREAST-Q Reconstruction Module administration in relation to the BREAST-Q version 2.0 user’s guide and the reporting of key methodology characteristics. The authors also describe a framework for improving the quality of BREAST-Q data analysis and reporting. Methods: The authors conducted a systematic search of PubMed, Embase, Cochrane CENTRAL, and Ovid HAPI databases to identify articles on the BREAST-Q Reconstruction Module to assess postmastectomy breast reconstruction outcomes. The authors registered the protocol before study implementation on Open Science Framework ( and adhered to the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines. Data on mode of BREAST-Q administration, time horizon justification, and sample size calculation were collected. Results: The authors included 185 studies in the analysis. Errors in BREAST-Q administration were identified in 36 studies (19.5 percent). Appropriate administration of the BREAST-Q could not be determined in 63 studies (34.1 percent) because of insufficient reporting. Time horizon for the primary outcome was reported in 71 studies (38.4 percent), with only 17 (9.2 percent) reporting a sample size calculation. Conclusions: The authors identified important yet actionable shortcomings in the BREAST-Q literature. Researchers are encouraged to review the BREAST-Q user’s guide in the study design phase to mitigate errors in patient-reported outcome measure administration and reporting for future trials using the BREAST-Q Reconstruction Module. Adhering to these guidelines will allow for greater clinical utility and generalizability of BREAST-Q research.


  • Gallo, Lucas
  • Chu, Jacqueline J
  • Shamsunder, Meghana G
  • Hatchell, Alexandra
  • Patel, Aadit R
  • Godwin, Kendra
  • Hernandez, Marisol
  • Pusic, Andrea L
  • Nelson, Jonas A
  • Voineskos, Sophocles

publication date

  • September 2022