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Psychooncology. 2009 Jan;18(1):6-13. doi: 10.1002/pon.1468.

Promoting evidence-based psychosocial care for cancer patients.

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  • 1Department of Health Outcomes and Behavior, Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute, Tampa, FL 33612, USA.


With numerous studies demonstrating that psychosocial care reduces distress and improves quality of life, practitioners have an obligation to treat cancer patients in a manner consistent with this evidence. Although the rationale is straightforward, major challenges exist in achieving the goal of translating research into clinical practice. One challenge has been the nature of the evidence, with many studies of psychosocial interventions characterized by poor methodological quality, absence of eligibility criteria specifying heightened distress, and minimal consideration of dissemination potential. A second challenge has been to make practitioners aware of relevant evidence. Targeted efforts at dissemination, such as the issuance of clinical practice guidelines and evidence-based recommendations and the distribution of intervention materials via the Internet, appear to be more effective than passive efforts in providing practitioners with useful information. Perhaps the most challenging aspect has been to persuade practitioners to change how they practice. One approach currently under development would allow practitioners and health-care organizations to perform self-evaluations of the quality of their psychosocial care based on review of medical records. Feedback showing quality of care to be less than optimal is likely to motivate change, especially if the quality indicators assessed are considered to be important and reliable and point to specific actions that can be taken. The use of evidence to promote changes in clinical practice represents one of the major ways in which the field of psycho-oncology can fully realize its potential to positively affect the lives of people with cancer.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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