Abstract

Assessment of Psycho-Social and Communication needs in Oncology patients – APSCO

Romania has one of the fastest growing aging populations of all countries in Eastern Europe. To add to the problem, standardized cancer incidence rates in Romania for all types of cancer have been rapidly increasing since 1990. Unfortunately to date, psychosocial cancer care can be seen as a major unsolved public health problem in Romania. Psychosocial support services are not yet provided to cancer patients, and psychosocial professionals (e.g. psychologists, social workers) are not readily available in the Romanian health care system. Assessment of distress and quality of life variables in cancer patients has equal importance to revealing the bio-psycho-social etiology and cancer risk, since it has been evidenced that quality of life is a significant prognostic factor of cancer progression and mortality, comparable with medical and treatment-related factors.

We intend carrying out an extensive study in order to determine actual psychosocial states of adult cancer patients in Romania – in hospitals, in supportive groups and in palliative care, their communication needs and quality of life (well–being). In our study, we put emphasis on psychosocial aspects (e.g. diagnosis, communication, depression, and quality of life), because objective characteristics, such as the particularities of tumors, give uncertain indications for understanding how cancer patients cope with the chronic condition. According to the tumor location, a heterogenic, mixed sample of oncology patients will be screened; a sample of 300 patients suffering from cancer diseases.

Assessment of distress, quality of life and communication in cancer patients has equal importance to revealing the bio-psychosocial etiology and cancer risk, since it has been evidenced that quality of life is a significant prognostic factor of cancer progression and mortality, comparable with medical and treatment–related factors. For example, in developed countries in the past 20 years, the high proportion of unmet, untreated psycho–social needs in cancer patients has not changed, except for significant progress in pain relief and alleviation of adverse reactions to oncologic treatments. In Romania, although almost 4.5 million individuals and their families are affected by cancer and incurable diseases only few receive integrated, medical, psychological and social care services. No statistics exist regarding the prevalence of pain and distress among patients with different types of cancer and only 5% of individuals with cancer have access to palliative care services. The over-arching goal of the study is to explore and examine cancer-related distress (depression and anxiety), communication, and quality of life aspects, with specifics of cancer diagnosis disclosure in Romania. The relevancy of our clinical research should be addressed and evaluated starting from the fact that in Romania, there are no previous scientific data about cancer diagnosis non-disclosure, cancer distress and cancer–related quality of life, based on comparative and  multivariate statistical analyses.

APSCO research project stimulates progress in psycho-oncology and oncology social work in Romania by data generation, standardization, and analysis. The project aims to discover original data with high-impact on care, research and policy.

APSCO unreservedly endorses the IPOS International Quality Standard of Cancer Care.

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