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Code of Ethics

The mission of American Psychosocial Oncology Society (APOS) is to advance the science and practice of psychosocial care for people affected by cancer. We acknowledge our professional and clinical responsibility to our unique disciplines (Medicine, Psychiatry, Psychology and Social Work). Our Code of Ethics will necessarily overlap those of our areas of training. Adherence to ethical standards is a key criterion in earning and preserving the trust placed in Psychosocial Oncology professionals and is a requirement for membership in APOS and participation in its activities. We are a national multidisciplinary organization with members from many disciplines. As such we have several core values:

  • People affected by cancer who receive psychosocial care can have improved quality of life and reduced distress, which enhances overall cancer care and survivorship.
  • Psychosocial oncology is a distinct professional discipline that is evidence based, rooted in the science of caring and integral to quality cancer care.
  • The science and practice of psychosocial oncology can be taught and shared through interdisciplinary research, education and professional networking.
  • APOS is committed to the highest integrity, honesty and accountability to professional ethics and standards of practice in psychosocial oncology.
  • APOS has a profound respect for the diversity of the human experience. Individuals are uniquely affected by cancer and its treatment and have the right to choose their own course of action.

It is from these core values and in concert with underlying ethical principles that our Code of Ethics is developed.   We work with many and diverse populations (adults, children, minorities and the dying) that have been impacted by cancer. Consequently we must be particularly diligent in our adherence and application of ethical standards.

  1. APOS members strive to benefit those with whom they work and take care to do no harm.
  2. APOS members shall be dedicated to providing competent care to people affected by cancer and their families, with respect for human dignity at all points in the cancer treatment trajectory.
  3. APOS members shall exercise reasonable judgment and remain aware of their professional competency and do not practice outside of their scope of practice.
    1. APOS members shall maintain a high level of personal integrity and professional competence seeking training and consultation.
  4. APOS members shall respect the rights of patients, and shall safeguard patient confidences and privacy within the constraints of the law.
  5. APOS members shall be aware that based on the diagnosis of cancer they are dealing with a population that may experience challenges in multiple domains of life (physical / spiritual / logistical).
    1. Further, an APOS member shall not discriminate or limit treatment based on age, gender, gender identity, race, ethnicity, culture, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, disability or language.
  6. APOS members shall, while caring for a patient, regard responsibility to the patient as paramount.
  7. APOS members seek to safeguard the welfare and rights of those with whom they interact professionally.
  8. APOS members shall promote and implement the guidelines and standards applicable to the field of Psychosocial Oncology.
  9. APOS members shall uphold this Code of Ethics in the conduct of duties and professional associations.

Adopted by the Board of Directors, 1 November 2013