Psychosocial Oncology Care

Recommendation:

A psychosocial oncology program is available for patients and caregivers who are experiencing distress related to cancer diagnosis, treatment and survivorship.

Overview

The diagnosis and treatment of cancer causes levels of distress that vary from normal to severe and may interfere with treatment. The distress may be psychological, financial, social and/or behavioral. Psychosocial care of cancer patients and their caregivers requires referral to an individual with specialized skills and knowledge in oncology. These individuals may be oncology social workers, psychologists, psychiatrists, or other mental health professionals trained in psychosocial care. There are distress screening tools developed and used in cancer programs to determine the level of distress and services which may be needed.

Standard

Certification

Oncology Social Work certification (OSW-C) is available through Board of Oncology Social Work 

Resources to Help

Recommendations for Evaluating Distress Screening Programs

  • Observe distress screening practices, particularly in terms of how screening is done across clinical settings.
  • Collect data indicating that screening occurs as prescribed and that appropriate responses to screening occurred, when clinically indicated.
  • Analyze data to identify groups at risk for not being screened or for inadequate psychosocial assessment and follow-up.
  • Assess patient endpoints as measuring patient outcomes and/or endpoints are necessary to determine best practices.

Insurance Considerations

Reimbursements for psychosocial services are limited to clinical counseling with an assigned DSM 5 diagnosis.

  
 

ACCC Member Program: Inova Health System, Inova Schar Cancer Institute

Life with Cancer is the psychosocial and educational arm of the Inova Schar Cancer Institute within the Inova Health System in northern Virginia. A multidisciplinary team of more than 40 staff -  including a psychiatrist/psycho-oncologist, oncology nurse navigators, licensed clinical social workers, licensed professional counselors, licensed art therapists, fitness instructors, and administrative staff - provide comprehensive psychosocial support and education through Life with Cancer. Oncology therapists and oncology nurse navigators possess diverse skill sets and specialized training that enables them to meet patients' needs throughout the care spectrum - from time of diagnosis, active treatment, advanced disease, survivorship, end-of-life experiences, and bereavement.  Learn more about Life with Cancer at Inova Schar Cancer Institute