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Distress Screening

In 2008, the Institute of Medicine (now the National Academies of Science, Medicine, and Engineering) released its influential  report, Cancer Care for the Whole Patient: Meeting Psychosocial Health Needs, which 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.

Today, there is an increasing body of knowledge around this area, and organizations like the Commission on Cancer (CoC) and others are including distress screening as part of their guidelines and accreditation standards.

Featured Program

Psychosocial Distress Screening—Model Sites

ACCC, along with its project partner APOS, identified three ACCC member programs that are serving as model sites for the “Psychosocial Distress Screening” project.
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ACCC Debuts CANCER BUZZ Podcast


August 06, 2019
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Podcast Art

ACCC’s new podcast, CANCER BUZZ, features fresh perspectives on pressing clinical, workplace, and care delivery issues that inevitably arise in oncology care. From the benchside to the bedside, CANCER BUZZ conversations will cover top-of-mind questions and real-world impact.

The inaugural episode of CANCER BUZZ—Zeroing in on Symptom Management— looks at why and how some cancer programs are creating an alternative option to the emergency room for after-hours emergent care of their patients in active treatment. Two nurses from Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin Cancer Center 24-Hour Cancer Clinic—a 2018 ACCC Innovator Award winner—explain how their round-the-clock clinic is keeping cancer patients out of the ED, reducing unneeded testing and hospital admissions, and improving the patient experience.

The latest episode of CANCER BUZZ—Fostering Cancer Care Team Resiliency & Well-Being—takes an honest look at workplace stressors and the risk of burnout among members of the cancer care team. You'll hear from oncology professionals from a variety of care settings who are committed to creating a workplace culture that fosters well-being for all. This episode uncovers some strategies that have had real, positive effects on how oncology care providers feel about their work, their patients, and one another.

Each month CANCER BUZZ will deliver insights on hot topics in oncology. Be sure to listen in; you may find new solutions to the seemingly intractable challenges in your own workplace.

Tune on August 28 for the next CANCER BUZZ episode: Why Comprehensive Cancer Care Services Matter.

From Oncology Issues

  • Supportive Care Just When Patients Need It
    By Tina Curtis, DNP, MBA, RN, NEA-BC, and Elizabeth Malosh, MSN, RN, NE-BC
    For patients with cancer experiencing symptoms outside of business hours or when same-day appointments are unavailable, the usual options are to wait until the next day or visit the emergency department (ED). However, ED visits come with clinical and financial risks for oncology patients. Read how The Clinical Cancer Center at Froedtert Hospital developed a 24-hour urgent care oncology clinic to reduce ED use, eliminate redundant services, and alleviate financial burden.
  • A Physician Champion Takes a Practice-Based Immunotherapy Program to the Next Level
    Tracy Virgilio, RN, MSN, OCN
    Early symptom management is key to improving quality of life for patients with cancer, and proactive monitoring delivers unparalleled survival advantage while decreasing emergency visits and admissions. However, immunotherapies require special attention and procedures. Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center earned a 2018 ACCC Innovator Award for their immunotherapy triage algorithms, which provide non-oncology physicians and nurses with the tools to manage IO patients and prevent unnecessary admissions.
  •  Technology Unlocks Untapped Potential in a Financial Navigation Program
    By Clara Lambert, BBA, OPN-CG; Scott Legleitner, BA, LPhT, SST; and Kathleen LaRaia
    While financial navigation programs ease the burden of financial toxicity on patients with cancer and help healthcare organizations with revenue loss, the manual nature of the process is challenging for navigators and financial advocates. Cowell Family Cancer Center piloted a financial navigation software program to analyze the effects of automation on productivity, workflow, and organizational alignment.
  •  Community-Based Psychological First Aid for Oncology Professionals
    By Sam Gaster, MA; Christina Early, MSW; Amanda Reed, PhD; and Brandon Gray, MA
    Training in community-based psychological first aid is a promising intervention that promotes adaptive functioning by instilling individuals with the knowledge and skills necessary to support oneself and others when stressful events occur. The Avera Cancer Institute, Sioux Falls, S.D., has conducted community-based psychological first aid for its workforce since August 2017.
  •  Views: The Trauma of Cancer
    By Kelly Grosklags, LICSW, BCD
    I have worked with oncology patients in some capacity for 25 years, but hearing “posttraumatic stress disorder” (PTSD) and “cancer” in the same sentence is a relatively new concept for most.
  •  Patient Care Connect
    By Warren Smedley, MSHA, MSHQS, and Gabrielle B. Rocque, MD
    Though the concept of patient navigation is not new, the use of lay navigation teams across the continuum of a cancer journey is a novel approach to care coordination. Integrating lay navigators into the healthcare team empowers the clinical team to work at a higher level within the scope of their training.
  •  Beyond the Classroom: Students Improve Access to Supportive Care Services
    By Bridget LeGrazie, APN; Brie Bernhardt, MSW, LSW; and Lisa Rosenberry, MS, MSW, LCSW, OSW-C
    In 2016 Virtua Cancer Program saw approximately 2,400 analytic cases across three ncampuses. Our two full-time (FTE) social workers were challenged to meet this high patient demand, and it soon became clear that improvements were needed
  •  Geriatric Oncology Ambulatory Care Clinics
    By Janine Overcash; Sandra Abels; H. Paige Erdeljac; Susan Fugett; Brittany Knauss; Elizabeth Kress; Cari Utendorf; and Anne M. Noonan
    The role of the geriatric oncology ambulatory care clinic is important to the care of the older person in that it assembles a multidisciplinary team of oncology professionals specialized in aging and who work together to conduct comprehensive geriatric assessment and develop a cancer management plan.
  •  Life with Cancer at Inova Schar Cancer Institute
    By Sage Bolte, PhD, MSW, OSW-C
    Learn how Inova Schar Cancer Institute’s Life with Cancer program, with more than 40 multidisciplinary staff members, comes together to offer psychosocial support and survivorship care.
  • Oncology Distress Screening: Distress prevalance, new standards, implementation
    Kendall J, et al.
    Oncology Distress Screening: Distress prevalance, new standards, implementation
  •  Growing a Psychosocial Oncology Program within a Cancer Center
    Hamann HA and Kendall J.
    Growing a Psychosocial Oncology Program within a Cancer Center
  •  Catalyzing Patient-Centered Care—Start Where You Are and Share What You Know
    Pratt-Chapman, et al.
    Catalyzing Patient-Centered Care
  •  Distress Screening for Oncology Patients
    Buxton D, et al.
    Distress Screening for Oncology Patients
  •  Bridging the Psychosocial and Financial: A Model for Decreasing Patient Distress, While Ensuring Your Program’s Financial Viability.
    Bridging the Psychosocial and Financial
  •  From Distress Screenings to Solutions
    Lori McMullen, RN, MSN, OCN
    At the Edward and Marie Matthews Center for Cancer Care, Plainsboro, N.J., the process for developing and implementing psychosocial distress screening began in January 2013.
  •  A Cognitive Approach to Cancer Treatment
    Marlena Ryba, PhD
    Too often, the emotional burdens accompanying cancer lead to early withdrawal from chemotherapy, for example, and poor outcomes. However, a series of clinical studies suggest psychotherapy can counter those effects, with powerful implications for patients.
  •  Building a Navigation and Psychosocial Support Program from the Ground Up
    Lori McNulty, RN, and Faye Flemming, RN, BSN, OCN
    At ACCC member Southside Regional Medical Center, an oncology nurse navigator heads up navigation and psychosocial services, including partnering with a local community agency to help meet high referral and patient demand.