Intervening to improve psychological outcomes after cancer: What is known and where next?
Australian Psychological Society
Faculty of Health, Engineering and Science
ECU Health and Wellness Institute
Cancer is a leading cause of burden of disease in Australia. The diagnosis of cancer is a major life stress with heightened psychological distress common and unmet psychological supportive care needs highly prevalent. There is a clinical imperative to provide accessible evidence-based psychosocial therapies to patients and their families in order to reduce distress and optimise psychological outcomes. A range of theoretical approaches have been proposed to guide psychological interventions in the context of cancer, including theories of stress and coping and social cognitive theories of adjustment. In addition, there is a well-established body of evidence demonstrating that psychosocial interventions improve psychological outcomes after cancer, and clinical practice guidelines for intervention to reduce distress in people affected by cancer have been developed based on this evidence. However, despite relevant theoretical models, empirical evidence, and the availability of guidelines, evidence-based psychosocial care for cancer patients is the exception rather than the norm. The answer to this problem may lie in research translation. A model for research translation is overviewed in this article with barriers to research translation discussed and a case study presented. Finally, recommendations for how health psychology can contribute to psycho-oncology research and practice are proposed.