Development of guidelines for distress management in Korean cancer patients

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Objectives:Psychological distress is common in cancer patients, and the need to develop a system for assessing and managing distress is widely recognized. This project developed recommendations that are feasible for Korean cancer patients and the Korean healthcare system.Methods:Based on the findings from a series of studies in the context of this project, we developed guidelines following the steps and parameters recommended by the Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network (SIGN). The Development Group consisted of individuals from several professions, including psychiatrists, psychologists, nurses, social workers, a health policy expert, and a methodologist. Opinions from various healthcare providers, patients, and related societies were also reflected in the guidelines.Results:The main recommendations for distress management in cancer patients were the following: (1) a concept of distress in Korean cancer patients, screening tools, management algorithms, and triage approaches was developed and (2) four symptom-specific guidelines with management algorithms were proposed for depression, anxiety, insomnia, and delirium.Conclusion:This is the first effort to develop recommendations for distress management in psycho-oncology in Korea. These guidelines offer standards for psychosocial care for cancer patients in Korea. We have made a significant step toward integrated cancer care that incorporates the psychosocial care of patients as an essential component of patient care in a Korean oncology context. This version will be updated constantly to keep up with emerging evidence from empirical research and clinical experience.

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