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Psychooncology. 2001 May-Jun;10(3):199-205.

Empirically supported treatments: will this movement in the field of psychology impact the practice of psychosocial oncology?

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Calgary, 2500 University Drive NW, Calgary, Alberta, Canada, T2N 1N4.


This article discusses the likelihood of the empirically supported treatment (EST) movement impacting the practice of psychosocial oncology, with the goal of raising awareness of these issues and encouraging debate within the psychosocial oncology research and practice community. In 1993, the American Psychological Association struck a task force to develop criteria for empirically evaluating psychological interventions. The Clinical Psychology (Division 12) Task Force now evaluates psychological interventions and publishes an updated list of ESTs on a yearly basis. Concerns raised about the EST movement in psychology have included difficulties with the terminology and process of the Task Force, problems with the methodology used in psychotherapy research, and with the possible practical implications of the Task Force list of EST. A review of the literature suggests that psychosocial interventions in oncology are currently beginning to be evaluated by the EST criteria and that the reviewed interventions have yet to attain EST status. Following from this review, it is argued that researchers and practitioners in psychosocial oncology should become aware of the standards established by the Division 12 Task Force and that future psycho-oncology intervention research may need to be designed to meet those standards. The discipline of psychosocial oncology is encouraged to consider the possible implications of accepting or not accepting the EST criteria.

Copyright 2001 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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