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Support Care Cancer. 2002 Oct;10(7):549-55. Epub 2002 Jul 24.

Uptake of psychosocial referrals in an outpatient cancer setting: improving service accessibility via the referral process.

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Peter MacCallum Cancer Institute, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.


The object of this study was to identify factors which influence the uptake of psychosocial services in an ambulatory cancer setting and to identify potential barriers to the access of support services in the referral process. To this end, 202 individuals attending outpatient clinics of a cancer hospital were randomised to the intervention arm of a study to assess the impact of providing co-ordinated, targeted psychosocial referrals and interventions. Qualitative and quantitative analysis of the reasons for failure to offer services and for nonacceptance of services was undertaken. Individuals accepted 22% of offered services, refused 38% of offered services, indicated that services were in place in 31% of cases, and were not offered 9% of identified services. The major response from patients refusing services was "not now". Female patients ( P < 0.01), and individuals with a moderate to high level of depression ( P = 0.02), were more likely to accept services. A variety of factors impact on decisions on utilisation of support services. Recommendations on how individuals' access to these services might be improved are offered, based on an analysis of the reasons given by patients for refusal.

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