Does routine psychosocial screening improve referral to psychosocial care providers and patient-radiotherapist communication? A cluster randomized controlled trial

Anna P. B. M. Braeken*, Lilian Lechner, Danielle B. P. Eekers, Ruud M. A. Houben, Francis C. J. M. van Gils, Ton Ambergen, Gertrudis I. J. M. Kempen

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

    Abstract

    Objective: This study tests whether using a screening instrument improves referral to psychosocial care providers (e.g. psychologist) and facilitates patient-radiotherapist communication.

    Methods: A cluster randomized controlled trial was used. Fourteen radiotherapists were randomly allocated to the experimental or control group and 568 of their patients received care in accordance with the group to which their radiotherapist was allocated. Patients in the experimental group were asked to complete a screening instrument before and at the end of the radiation treatment period. All patients were requested to complete questionnaires concerning patient-physician communication after the first consultation and concerning psychosocial care 3 and 12 months post-intervention.

    Results: Patients who completed the screening instrument were referred to social workers at an earlier stage than patients who did not (P <0.01). No effects were observed for numbers of referred patients, or for improved patient-radiotherapist communication.

    Conclusions: Our results suggest that a simple screening procedure can be valuable for the timely treatment of psychosocial problems in patients. Future efforts should be directed at appropriate timing of screening and enhancing physicians' awareness regarding the importance of identifying, discussing and treating psychosocial problems in cancer patients.

    Practice implications: Psychosocial screening can be enhanced by effective radiotherapist-patient communication. (C) 2013 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)289-297
    Number of pages9
    JournalPatient Education and Counseling
    Volume93
    Issue number2
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Nov 2013

    Keywords

    • Distress
    • Screening
    • Oncology
    • Cancer
    • Communication
    • QUALITY-OF-LIFE
    • 6TH VITAL SIGN
    • CANCER-PATIENTS
    • PSYCHOLOGICAL DISTRESS
    • PHYSICIAN COMMUNICATION
    • ONCOLOGY PRACTICE
    • DEPRESSION SCALE
    • MENTAL-DISORDERS
    • LUNG-CANCER
    • PREVALENCE

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