Csaba László DÉGI*
Faculty of Sociology and Social Work, Babeș–Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca, Romania
Background In 1919, Ida Cannon established the first department of psychosocial care in the Massachusetts Hospital, USA. In 2016, psychosocial oncology within the Romanian healthcare system is just in its initial stages and focus on the psychosocial aspects of patient-related needs is still insufficient. Psychosocial care and support interventions in the domain of healthcare are not fully operational, and there are no specialized professionals or specific disciplines (e.g., psycho-oncology or oncology social work). Moreover, introduction into psychosocial oncology care is missing altogether from the university curricula of medical, psychology and social work faculties.
Purpose APSCO – ‘Assessment of Psycho-Social and Communication needs in Oncology patients’ is a pioneering interdisciplinary research project in Romania that focuses on the psychosocial aspects of cancer. Further, the research project ‘Emerging needs and opportunities of psychosocial care professionals for cancer patients in Romania’ is a first evaluation of the current situation concerning the psychosocial needs neglected/disregarded in the Romanian cancer treatment schema, from the specialists’ view.
Methodology APSCO data were obtained through questionnaire-based assessments carried out in several oncology centers nationwide, from 2006 to 2013/2014, using multivariate statistical analyses. The needs assessment project among professionals used a mixed methodological approach, in 2014.
Results Data analyzed in 2014 reveal that the prevalence of patients not informed about their cancer diagnosis halved (16.9% vs. 8.2%) in the period of 2006–2013/2014. Along with that, psychosocial distress is reaching high values and the symptoms remain relatively unchanged, especially with depression (47.5% vs. 42.2%) and anxiety (46.7% vs. 47.2%) in focus. Existing challenges and possibilities in oncology psychosocial work – from professional’s perspective – will also be presented. Practical implications Given the unstable financial situation of the Romanian healthcare system, it appears that psychosocial oncology care would make a cost-effective strategy, increasing patients’ level of satisfaction and their quality of life.
KEYWORDS: cancer, needs, psychosocial oncology, care, Romania
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