Toward a Broader Role for Occupational Therapy in Supportive Oncology Care

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Abstract

Supportive care in oncology helps people cope with cancer and its psychological, physical, and emotional side effects. However, cancer survivors report dissatisfaction with supportive care and a need for more psychosocial and self-management services. Occupational therapy practitioners represent an integral part of the supportive care team because their scope of practice emphasizes function. Through a focus on function, practitioners address the full spectrum of physical and psychosocial care. Currently, conceptualizations of occupational therapy for cancer survivors often focus solely on physical interventions and, therefore, do not represent the unique involvement of the profession in supportive oncology care. We advocate for a focused framework for occupational therapy practitioners in oncology as experts in function and providers of both physical and psychosocial treatments. Barriers to a focus on function are identified, and strategies are suggested for expanding involvement for the profession in supportive oncology care.

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