Psychosocial staffing at National Comprehensive Cancer Network member institutions: data from leading cancer centers

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Objective:The National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) is comprised of 25 National Cancer Institute-designated cancer centers and arguably could thus set the standard for optimal psychosocial staffing for cancer centers; therefore, information was sought from NCCN Member Institutions about their current staffing for psychosocial services. These findings are put into perspective given the limited existing literature and consensus reports.Methods:The NCCN Best Practices Committee surveyed member institutions about their staffing for psychosocial services. The survey was administered electronically in the winter of 2012.Results:The survey was completed by 20 cancer centers. Across institutions, case managers and mental health therapists, typically social workers, were utilized most frequently to provide psychosocial services (67% of full-time-equivalents (FTEs)), with other psychosocial professionals also represented but less consistently. Most psychosocial services are institutionally funded (ranging from 64 to 100%), although additional sources of support include fee for service and grant funding. Training of psychosocial providers is unevenly distributed across responding sites, ranging from 92% of institutions having training programs for psychiatrists to 36% having training programs for mental health therapists.Conclusions:There was variability among the institutions in terms of patient volume, psychosocial services provided, and psychosocial staff employed. As accreditation standards are implemented that provide impetus for psychosocial services in oncology, it is hoped that greater clarity will develop concerning staffing for psychosocial services and uptake of these services by patients with cancer. Copyright © 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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