Integrating psychosocial care into cancer services.
Fann JR., Ell K., Sharpe M.
Despite substantial evidence that patients with cancer commonly have significant psychosocial problems, for which we have evidence-based treatments, many patients still do not receive adequate psychosocial care. This means that we risk prolonging life without adequately addressing the quality of that life. There are many challenges to improving the current situation, the major one of which is organizational. Many cancer centers lack a system of psychosocial care that is integrated with the cancer care of the patient. Psychosocial care encompasses a range of problems (emotional, social, palliative, and logistical). The integration must occur with the cancer care of the patient at all stages (from screening to palliative care) and across all clinical sites of care (inpatient and outpatient cancer services as well as primary care). In this article, we consider the challenges we face if we are to provide such integrated psychosocial services. We focus on the collaborative care service model. This model comprises systematic identification of need, integrated delivery of care by care managers, appropriate specialist supervision, and the stepping of care based on systematic measurement of outcomes. Several trials of this approach to the management of depression in patients with cancer have found it to be both feasible to deliver and effective. It provides a model for services to meet other psychosocial needs. We conclude by proposing the key components of an integrated psychosocial service that could be implemented now and by considering what we need to do next if we are to succeed in providing better and more comprehensive care to our patients.