New supportive care assessment guideline available

Multi-partner collaboration adds to evidence base for psychosocial oncology

A patient and a nurseA new Canadian guideline to help assess the psychosocial health care needs of adult cancer patients is now available as a result of a collaboration between the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer and the Canadian Association of Psychosocial Oncology.

A Pan-Canadian Clinical Practice Guideline: Assessment of Psychosocial Health Care Needs of the Adult Cancer Patient was developed by expert interdisciplinary team members from Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Alberta and British Columbia, as well as the Partnership’s Cancer Journey and Guidelines Advisory Groups.

The recommendations in this guideline were designed to explain, ignite, and support the need for quality psychosocial health care needs assessment and screening for distress in persons living with cancer.

“This guideline will support the abilities of practitioners across the country to consistently identify and tailor interventions to meet the psychosocial needs of people with cancer,” says Princess Margaret Hospital’s Dr. Doris Howell, the team lead.

“Shaping and reviewing the guideline has involved people from across the country and we know that it is addressing a very real care gap. The adoption of the recommendations in the guideline into cancer practice will bring us one step closer to a person-focused cancer system that can improve the patient and family experience of living with cancer. ”

The guideline gives health-care providers recommendations about routine, systematic and standardized assessment of psychosocial health care needs which include physical, informational, emotional, social, psychological, spiritual and practical needs.

Using an evidence base that is grounded in research and clinical practice, the guidelines stress the importance of assessment as a first step in understanding the implications of needs and the implementation of appropriate interventions.

At the same time, this document has suggested a range of important considerations as the field moves forward – from needs assessment, clinical service provision, resource allocation, intervention, follow-up, and outcome evaluation, to related research, and more.

The guideline is drawn, in part, from an Australian guideline. The ADAPTE methodology, under the leadership of the Partnership’s Guidelines Adaptation Program, was used to guide the development process for Canada. As gaps were identified, additional research and expert consensus were used to support the process.

The guideline is available, in English and French, on the Canadian Association of Psychosocial Oncology website and will become part of the SAGE – Standards and Guidelines Evidence – directory on the Partnership’s Cancer View Canada portal.