Psychosocial care for cancer: a framework to guide practice, and actionable recommendations for Ontario

G. C. Turnbull Macdonald, F. Baldassarre, P. Brown, J. Hatton–Bauer, M. Li, E. Green, S. Lebel



We set out to create a psychosocial oncology care framework and a set of relevant recommendations that can be used to

• improve the quality of comprehensive cancer care for Ontario patients and their families.

• meet the psychosocial health care needs of cancer patients and their families at both the provider and system levels.

Data Sources and Methods

The ADAPTE process and the practice guideline development cycle were used to adapt the 10 recommendations from the 2008 U.S. Institute of Medicine standard Cancer Care for the Whole Patient: Meeting Psychosocial Health Needs into the psychosocial oncology care framework. In addition, the evidence contained in the original document was used, in combination with the expertise of the working group, to create a set of actionable recommendations. Refinement after formal external review was conducted.

Data Extraction and Synthesis

The new framework consists of 8 defining domains. Of those 8 domains, 7 were adapted from recommendations in the source document; 1 new domain, to raise awareness about the need for psychosocial support of cancer patients and their families, was added. To ensure high-quality psychosocial care and services, 31 actionable recommendations were created. The document was submitted to an external review process. More than 70% of practitioners rated the quality of the advice document as high and reported that they would recommend its use.


This advice document advocates for a multidisciplinary approach to cancer care in response to the distress experienced by cancer patients and their families. The recommendations will be useful in future to measure performance, quality of practice, and access to psychosocial services.

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Copyright © 2019 Multimed Inc.
ISSN: 1198-0052 (Print) ISSN: 1718-7729 (Online)