Even though the rates of survival have increased for childhood cancer, many families will be diagnosed and undergo cancer treatment. A new report from the American Psychologist recounts the integration of psychological care into the course of cancer treatment for children and their families. Several areas of care impacted by integrated psychological care include: managing procedural pain, nausea, and other symptoms; understanding and reducing neuropsychological effects; treating children in the context of their families and other systems (social ecology); applying a developmental perspective; identifying competence and vulnerability; integrating psychological knowledge into decision making and other clinical care issues; and facilitating the transition to palliative care and bereavement.
Even with the strong integration of psychological care into pediatric oncology, this reports discusses how consistent psychological care across is not always available to children and families for various reasons. For example, screening children and families for psychological distress would help to identify the families in most need of additional services, however such screening is not always routinely conducted. Issues around billing for services also interfere with consistent implementation of psychological care.
Also, looking forward, as efforts continue to provide consistent care, many opportunities for future research exist, including research on evidence based treatments and valued added cost from psychological care.
If you work with pediatric oncology patients, how do you or your coworkers integrate psychological care into a patient's overall treatment plan?