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Cancer Care for the Whole Patient: Meeting Psychosocial Health Needs
Providers who care for cancer survivors should become familiar with the employment rights that apply to survivors who want to work and make available information about employment rights and programs that provide counseling, legal services, and referral.
Providers should routinely ask patients who are cancer survivors if they have physical or mental health problems that are affecting their work, with the goal of improving symptoms and referring patients for rehabilitative and other services.
Employers should implement programs to assist cancer survivors. Examples include short- and long-term disability insurance, return to work programs, wellness programs, accommodation of special needs, and employee assistance programs.
Cancer survivors should tell their physicians when health problems are affecting them at work. Survivors should educate themselves about their employment rights and contact support organizations for assistance and referrals when needed.
Clinic-based protocols should be developed to ensure that all staff working with patients with cancer have participated in relevant communication skills training.
MeetingPsychosocialNeeds of Womenwith BreastCancer (IOMand NRC, 2004)
Sponsors of professional education and training programs (e.g., NCI, ACS, American Society of Clinical Oncology [ASCO], Oncology Nursing Society, Association of Oncology Social Work, American Cancer Society-Commission on Cancer, American Psychosocial Society) should support continuing education programs by designing, recommending, or funding them at a level that recognizes their importance in psycho-oncology for oncologists, those in training programs, and nurses and for further development of programs similar to the ASCO program to improve clinician’s communication skills; and