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J Support Oncol. 2007 Nov-Dec;5(10):499-504.

Screening for psychosocial distress: a national survey of oncologists.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center, Boston, Massachusetts 02114, USA.


Little is known about the dissemination and uptake of National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) guidelines for psychosocial distress in oncology practice. This study surveyed oncologists about their awareness of NCCN guidelines on psychosocial distress and their methods of screening patients for distress. In all, 1,000 oncologists practicing in the United States who were members of the American Society of Clinical Oncology were asked to complete an anonymous questionnaire. Predictors of routine screening for distress were identified using logistic regression. Overall, 46% (448/965) of the oncologists responded. Almost two thirds (63.4%) practiced in the community, 27.2% practiced in cancer centers, and 6.9% practiced in hospitals. Less than one-third (32.3%) reported being at least somewhat familiar with NCCN guidelines. Two-thirds (65.0%; 95% confidence interval, 60.6-69.4) reported screening patients for distress routinely, but only 14.3% used a screening instrument. Independent predictors for screening patients for distress included availability of mental health services, knowledge of NCCN guidelines, experience, lack of time, uncertainty about identifying distress, and female gender of the practitioner. NCCN guidelines for psychosocial distress do not appear to be widely disseminated. Whereas the majority of oncologists reported routinely screening patients for distress, only a small percentage followed the guidelines by using a screening instrument. Future efforts should focus on the dissemination and validation of the NCCN guidelines.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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