Objectives
  • To be able to perform an adequate assessment of a patient's psychosocial needs and to identify coping resources

  • To be able to provide appropriate referrals to members of the multidisciplinary team with training in psycho-oncology or mental health

Awareness
  • Awareness of the need to screen for emotional distress at regular intervals during the continuum of the cancer trajectory and to refer to the appropriate clinician or team following established guidelines

  • Awareness of the epidemiology of psychological morbidity in patients with cancer, including syndromes such as depression, anxiety and adjustment disorders

  • Appreciation of the consequences of psychological morbidity, including its impact on clinical outcomes (survival, quality of life)

  • Appreciation of risk factors for psychological morbidity, including individual susceptibility based on prior history and sociodemographic factors or of those pertaining to the disease or its treatment

  • Appreciation of the range of normal coping mechanisms and protective factors (family and social support, spirituality)

  • Appreciation of the role of sociocultural determinants of health in shaping a person's meaning and experience of illness

  • Awareness of the availability of community resources and professional services to assist patients and families in overcoming emotional and social consequences of living with a life-threatening illness

  • Recognition of the importance of emotional self-awareness and self-regulation for oncology clinicians

Knowledge
  • Familiarity with a conceptual biopsychosocial comprehensive patient-centred framework for assessing a patient's psychosocial needs (including psychological suffering and morbidity), and with a timely and efficient referral to psycho-oncology specialists, mental health professionals, social workers or chaplains depending on individual needs and available resources

  • Knowledge of simple instruments to screen for distress such as the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) Distress Thermometer, quality of life assessment tools, and survivorship assessment tools

  • Understanding of the importance of communication skills and strategies to elicit patients’ concerns, goals and values and to establish preferences for involvement in decision-making along the disease trajectory

  • Knowledge of the different roles and areas of expertise of members of the multidisciplinary (medical professionals with different specialties) and interdisciplinary (non-medical healthcare professionals , including nurses, psychologists, therapists, social workers and chaplains) teams

Skills
  • Ability to demonstrate proficiency in cross-cultural care based on a patient-centred approach to communication that avoids stereotyping and bias

  • Ability to demonstrate competence in interviewing skills to identify psychological suffering and morbidity

  • Ability to use and interpret simple instruments to screen for distress such as the NCCN Distress Thermometer, quality of life and survivorship assessment tools

  • Ability to perform adequate referrals to psycho-oncology or mental health professionals

  • Ability to conduct a family meeting

  • Ability to exhibit excellence in communication skills for delivering patient-centred care, communicating serious news, using empathic responses that address the patient's emotions, perspectives and goals, eliciting a patient's concerns about his or her quality of life (including sexual function, mood and sleep), exploring the patient's beliefs and concerns, involving patients and caregivers in decision-making according to their expressed preference, as well as discussing goals of care and wishes for end-of-life care

  • Ability to prescribe and monitor use of psychotropic drugs to reduce anxiety, depression, insomnia, delirium, and other common and distressing symptoms

  • Ability to perform an adequate non-stigmatising referral to psycho-oncology or mental health professionals

  • Ability to work effectively with nurses, psychologists, and psychiatrists, palliative care clinicians, therapists, social workers and chaplains, who are members of the oncology team, and to communicate effectively with referring physicians to ensure a seamless plan of care for the patient

  • Ability to show maturity in handling the emotional impact of caring for patients who are seriously ill and dying