Psycho-oncology service plays an essential role in providing holistic patient-centered care to oncology patients. In February 2017, GVH has established one of the first psycho-oncology outpatient services in regional Victoria, conducting outpatient clinics monthly.
This report aims to evaluate the nature and quality of this new service. We also hope to explore the scopes and demands of this service to identify the need for improvement.
Retrospective study of patients referred to psycho-oncology service from February-July 2017.
Fifteen referrals were made, with 11 patients reviewed, 2 still awaiting appointments and 2 failing to attend. There were 9 female and 2 male, with the median age of 66(30-72). The most common diagnosis was breast cancer (n=4,36%). Nine patients had metastatic disease. Five (45%) were receiving adjuvant chemotherapy, 4(46%) on palliative chemotherapy and 2(18%) on endocrine treatment. The reasons for referral were depressed mood (n=5,45%), anxiety (n=1,9%), mixed (n=3,27%) and others/non-specified (n=2,18%). Four patients had previous psychiatric history. The median duration from referral to clinic review was 42 days, ranging from 4 to 102 days. Six (55%) patients were diagnosed with adjustment disorder, 3(27%) with mood disorder and 2(18%) with normal grieving. All patients received counseling and were educated on mindfulness strategies. Four patients were advised to continue with their current medications and 3 patients were commenced on new medications (e.g. antidepressants, benzodiazepines).
The establishment of this service has successfully allowed us to provide specialized psychological support to our patients locally, addressing their mental health concerns and providing appropriate management. However, there is a need for an increased number of clinic sessions to reduce the long waiting time. This will also provide the opportunity to introduce accredited psychiatry trainee and psycho-oncology nurse positions. We plan to follow up this study with a 12-month service evaluation.