Systematic screening for distress in oncology practice using the Distress Barometer: the impact on referrals to psychosocial care

    loading  Checking for direct PDF access through Ovid

Abstract

Purpose

This study evaluates how patterns of psychosocial referral of patients with elevated distress differ in a ‘systematic screening for distress’ condition versus a ‘usual practice’ condition in ambulatory oncology practice.

Methods

The psychosocial referral process in a 2-week usual practice (N= 278) condition was compared with a 2-week ‘using the Distress Barometer as a screening instrument’ (N= 304) condition in an outpatient clinic with seven consulting oncologists.

Results

Out of all distressed patients in the usual practice condition, only 5.5% of patients detected with distress were actually referred to psychosocial counselling, compared with 69.1% of patients detected with distress in the condition with systematic screening using the Distress Barometer. Only 3.7% of patients detected with distress in the usual practice condition finally accepted this referral, compared with 27.6% of patients detected with distress in the screening condition.

Conclusions

Using the Distress Barometer as a self-report screening instrument prior to oncological consultation optimises detection of elevated distress in patients, and this results in a higher number of performed and accepted referrals, but cannot by itself guarantee actual psychosocial referral or acceptance of referral. There is not only a problem of poor detection of distress in cancer patients but also a need for better decision-making and communication between oncologists and patients about this issue. Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Related Topics

    loading  Loading Related Articles