Jump To:

  • A- A A+
  • Click to change font size:   

Print this page

4. Why is it important to consider cancer patients’ psychosocial needs?

A diagnosis of cancer may lead to social, emotional, psychological and spiritual issues that can cause disruptions to work and family life, hinder a return to good health, weaken adherence to prescribed treatments [11] and contribute to the high rate of mental disorders in the cancer population  [12, 13].

Research has found that the rate of psychological disorders in the cancer population (approximately 30%) [12, 14, 15]  is higher than that of both the general population [12, 13] and the general medical patient population [13]. Further, a large amount of research has been done on the usefulness of psychosocial interventions [16-18] and as a result it has been concluded that they have a “consistent beneficial effect” on patients’ emotional, functional, treatment- and disease-related adjustment [19]. Therefore,  psychosocial care is now widely recommended in the clinical practice guidelines for treatment of a range of cancers [20].

The National Comprehensive Cancer Network (2011) distress management guidelines suggest that ALL cancer patients should be screened for distress using a patient reported 0-10 scale. Patients should then be managed according to the clinical practice guidelines, based on these results.

**Please note: The patient service directory section of this website provides a simple tool to allow patients to self-screen for distress and based on their responses, provides feedback on appropriate sources of psychosocial care for rural patients. Please consider referring them to this directory or asking them to complete it with you.