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Cancer Care for the Whole Patient: Meeting Psychosocial Health Needs
Interactive, multicomponent education postlicensure The Individual Cancer Assistance Network (ICAN) initiative of the National Association of Social Workers, CancerCare, the American Psychosocial Oncology Society (APOS), and Bristol-Meyers Squibb Foundation uses interactive strategies to train social workers and other mental health professionals to provide “cancer-sensitive” counseling to individuals with cancer. ICAN’s 8-hour face-to-face, interactive, experiential training program comprises discussion and knowledge- and skill-building activities encompassing clinicians’ monitoring of their own attitudinal and emotional responses to cancer; psychosocial issues relevant to cancer patients, including stress management, coping, quality-of-life concerns, grief, and hope; and ongoing case consultation support. Skill-building activities address biopsychosocial assessment, counseling methods, relaxation techniques, collaborative care, and resource utilization. Evaluations of the ICAN program found that participants rated the program highly with respect to increasing their knowledge and making them better prepared to serve cancer patients (Blum et al., 2006). As of the end of 2006, more than 20,000 people from at least 68 countries had taken the online courses offered by APOS and NASW; 75 percent of these participants had taken and passed the continuing education credit exams; and more than 400 social workers had participated in the day-long in-person training sessions hosted by NASW state chapters. Most recently, the ICAN program implemented a train-the-trainer format, and 20 participants were trained to deliver the curriculum to at least 20 colleagues in their communities.24
Interdisciplinary, experiential, statewide education In response to a study revealing a high level of unmet psychosocial needs among cancer patients in the state, Pennsylvania’s Cancer Control Program commissioned the development of a statewide continuing education program for health professionals working with cancer patients (Barg et al., 1993). Priorities of the program were to (1) enhance provider knowledge about psychosocial services, as well as pain and symptom control; (2) develop and distribute consumer guides to community resources to increase the use of existing support services; and (3) increase effective provider communication with patients and their families. Responsibility for curriculum content, methods, and implementation was shared by the University of Pennsylvania, University of Pittsburgh, Hershey Medical Center, and Lehigh Valley-Allentown Cooperative Cancer Center. The 3-day curriculum for health professionals was delivered at more than 20 sites across the state, and involved transmitting knowledge and using experiential educational strategies such as role
Personal communication, Patricia Doykos Duquette, PhD, Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation, New York, December 14, 2006.