Psychosocial Distress Screening

Last review conducted on 08/21/2019.

The pivotal Institute of Medicine* (IOM) report, Cancer Care for the Whole Patient: Meeting Psychosocial Health Needs, called attention to the importance of the psychosocial needs of cancer patients and the consequences of these needs remaining unmet. The IOM report concludes:

Attending to psychosocial needs should be an integral part of quality cancer care. All components of the health care system that are involved in cancer care should explicitly incorporate attention to psychosocial needs.

In the nearly 10 years since the report’s release, great strides have been made in the community cancer care setting in understanding the psychosocial needs of cancer patients and their caregivers. A body of knowledge has grown around this area, and organizations like the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) and the Commission on Cancer (CoC) and others are including distress screening as part of their guidelines and accreditation standards. Yet, implementation of these psychosocial services—in particular, distress screening—remains a challenge in many community–based cancer programs around the country.

In 2015, ACCC partnered with the American Psychosocial Oncology Society (APOS) to gather learnings and share effective practices from ACCC-member centers that were leaders in successfully implementing distress screening programs. The overarching goal was to improve patient care and the patient experience.
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*[Note: In 2015 the Institute of Medicine (IOM) was renamed the National Academy of Medicine and remains part of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (National Academies)].

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