Quality Care Standards

APOS Endorses Psychosocial Standards of Care for Children with Cancer and Their Families

APOS has endorsed the "Psychosocial Standards of Care for Children with Cancer and Their Families" published in a December 2015 special supplement of Pediatric Blood and Cancer.  The scientific, evidence-based psychosocial standards define the psychosocial care that all children with cancer and their families should receive. More than 60 clinicians and researchers from the US, Canada and the Netherlands developed the standards over three years following rigorous research and academic requirements and processes. The Washington Post published an article on the standards featuring Vicki and Peter Brown of the Mattie Miracle Cancer Foundation.

ccwp_thumbCancer Care for the Whole Patient: Meeting Psychosocial Health Needs

This report, published by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) in 2008, provided a clear and strong recommendation that the provision of psychosocial services be adopted as a standard of quality cancer care.  Key findings from this study indicated that the psychosocial health care needs of patients with cancer are not being adequately addressed despite evidence supporting the effectiveness of a range of services to help patients and their families manage the psychosocial aspects of cancer.

The report presents a model for the delivery of psychosocial services that includes implementing a process to identify patients' psychosocial needs and then implementing plans to link patients with needed psychosocial services.


Other Relevant Link:

Alliance for Quality Psychosocial Cancer Care

This is a coalition of professional and advocacy organizations brought together to advance recommendations from the IOM report Cancer Care for the Whole Patient


Psychosocial Distress Screening  & Distress Management

CoC Standard 3.2: Psychosocial Distress Screening

Beginning in 2015, the American College of Surgeons (ACoS) Commission on Cancer requires cancer centers to implement screening programs for psychosocial distress as a criterion for accreditation.

According to Standard 3.2: Psychosocial Distress Screening, each center must have a cancer committee that “develops and implements a process to integrate and monitor on-site distress screening and referral for the provision of psychosocial care.” This standard addresses issues related to the time of screening, screening tools and methods, assessment and referral, and documentation.

Cancer Survivorship

CoC Standard 3.3: Survivorship Care Plan

Beginning in 2015, the American College of Surgeons (ACoS) Commission on Cancer requires cancer centers to disseminate survivorship care plans to patients at the end of active treatment as a criterion for accreditation.

According to Standard 3.3: Survivorship Care Plan, each center must have a cancer committee that “develops and implements a process to disseminate a comprehensive care summary and follow-up plan to patients with cancer who are completing treatment.” This standard addresses who prepares the documentation and what information must be included. Additional resources are offered to assist programs with the development of these plans.


Improving Psychosocial Care through the Use of Quality Indicators

To address the lack of accepted indicators of the quality of psychosocial care, APOS formed a workgroup in 2007, chaired by Paul Jacobsen, PhD. Based on a review of relevant literature, including the IOM report and the National Comprehensive Cancer Network Guidelines for Distress Management, the workgroup developed indicators to measure two components considered necessary for providing quality psychosocial care: a process for identifying distressed patients and a process for linking distressed patients with services.

ASCO Quality Oncology Practice Initiative (QOPI) 

These indicators, developed by APOS and adopted by the ASCO Quality Oncology Practice Iniative (QOPI) are:

  1. Is there evidence in the medical record that the patient’s current emotional well-being was assessed within 1 month of the patient’s first visit with a medical oncologist?
  2. If a problem with emotional well-being was identified, is there evidence in the patient’s medical record that action was taken to address the problem or an explanation provided as to why no action was taken? Read more...


Joint Position Statement from APOS, AOSW, ONS on Implementing Distress Screening

In July 2013, APOS, AOSW, and ONS issued a joint position statement fully endorsing the new CoC standard  3.2 on psychosocial distress screening.

Read the statenebt

Other Relevant Links/Resources related to Distress Screening and Survivorship Care Planning

Organizations that have survivorship care planning templates: 
American Cancer Society Survivorship Care Plans
ASCO Cancer Treatment Summaries and Survivorship Care Plans
National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship Cancer Care Plans 
Livestrong Survivorship Care Plans

Fact Sheet: Cancer Survivorship Care Planning from the IOM

Special Issue: Distress Screening: Approaches and Recommendations for Oncology Social Workers 
Journal of Psychosocial Oncology. Volume 30, Issue 6, Nov 2012

Progress In Implementation of NCCN Guidelines for Distress Management by Member Institutions
Donovan & Jacobsen. J Natl Copmr Canc Netw 2013; 11, 223-226

Implementation of NCCN Distress Management Guidelines by Member Institutions.
Jacobsen & Ransom. J Natl Comp Cancer Netw 2007; 5:99-103

Screening for Distress and Unmet Needs in Patients with Cancer: Review and Recommendations.
Carlson et al. J Clin Oncol 2012; 30: 1160-1177.

From Distress Guidelines to Developing Models of Psychosocial Care: Current Best Practices. 
Clark PG, Bolte S, Buzaglo J, Golant M, Daratsos L, Loscalzo M., J Psychosoc Oncol. 2012;30(6):694-714.

Using the Science of Psychosocial Care to Implement the New American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer Distress Screening Standard. 
Wagner LI, Spiegel D, Pearman T. J Natl Compr Canc Netw. 2013 Feb 1;11(2):214-21.