The role of cancer patients and their caregivers in securing and using appropriate psychosocial health services also may need attention.


Recognizing the impact on cancer patients and their families of unaddressed psychosocial problems, the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research asked the IOM to empanel a committee to conduct a study of the delivery of the diverse psychosocial services needed by these patients and their families in community settings. The committee was tasked with producing a report that would

  • Describe how the broad array of psychosocial services needed by cancer patients is provided and what barriers exist to accessing such care.

  • Analyze the capacity of the current mental health and cancer treatment system to deliver psychosocial care, delineate the resources needed to deliver this care nationwide, and examine available training programs for professionals providing psychosocial and mental health services.

  • Recommend ways to address these issues and an action plan for overcoming the identified barriers to cancer patients’ receiving the psychosocial services they need.

A more detailed description of the tasks to be carried out by the committee and the methods used for the study is provided in Appendix B. Of note, this study builds on several prior IOM reports on cancer care, as well as those of other authoritative bodies (see Appendix C). This report is unique, however, in that it focuses exclusively on the delivery of psychosocial health services, and does so across all types of cancer. In shaping its scope of work, the committee took into particular consideration two recent IOM reports addressing the quality of care for cancer survivors. First, the report of the Committee on Cancer Survivorship: Improving Care and Quality of Life entitled From Cancer Patient to Cancer Survivor: Lost in Transition (IOM and NRC, 2006) well articulated how high-quality care (including psychosocial health care) should be delivered after patients complete their cancer treatment. The IOM report Childhood Cancer Survivorship: Improving Care and Quality of Life similarly addressed survivorship for childhood cancer (IOM and NRC, 2003). For this reason, the committee that conducted the present study chose to focus on how psychosocial services should be delivered during active treatment of cancer. The recommendations made in this report complement those of the two prior reports on cancer survivorship, and can be implemented for cancer survivors who

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