The Institute of Medicine recently studied how well the total needs of cancer patients are being met (go here). Some of their conclusions are as noted: In spite of this evidence, patients, physicians and other cancer care providers tell us that attention to patients’ psychosocial health needs is the exception rather than the rule in cancer care today. Many people living with cancer report dissatisfaction with the amount and type of information they are given about their diagnosis, available treatments, and ways to manage their illness and health.
Studying these systems, the Committee identified a common framework for the effective delivery of psychosocial health services: 1. Identify psychosocial needs. 2. Link patients and families to services. 3. Support patients and families in managing illness. 4. Coordinate psychosocial and biomedical health care. 5. Follow up on care delivery to monitor the effectiveness of services.
The Committee also found that while the supply of services is not sufficient to resolve all psychosocial problems (such as poverty), there are untapped services available in communities across the U.S. – many of which are available at no cost to patients. However, patients are often unaware that they exist or how to access them.
All cancer care should ensure the provision of appropriate psychosocial healthservices by:
• Facilitating effective communication between patients
and care providers.
• Engages and supports patients in managing their illness and health.
• Systematically following up on, reevaluating, and adjusting plans.