Northwestern researchers are working with key community stakeholders to guide the implementation of best practices for distress screening and survivorship care among cancer patients across the Chicago community as part of the Coleman Supportive Oncology Initiative (CSOI) funded by the Coleman Foundation. Distress screening involves administering surveys by care providers to identify physical and emotional burdens cancer patients may be experiencing, and provide access to care and resources to address their needs. The survivorship care component involves addressing the needs of patients once they have completed primary treatment and providing them with a survivorship care plan that includes key information about their treatment, follow-up, as well as healthy lifestyle recommendations.
“Having a screening and referral process in place for the emotional and physical needs of cancer patients is critical to providing optimal care and maximizing quality of life during an often challenging period,” said Dr. Frank J. Penedo, principal investigator of the CSOI’s distress screening and survivorship initiative teams and faculty member at the Center for Community Health-Institute for Public Health and Medicine. “Having a system in place that provides patients with the opportunity to report their physical, emotional and practical concerns allows their care team to address their needs and refer them to a provider that can help. Concerns like depression, anxiety, or even lack of knowledge, transportation or childcare can get in the way of treatment and follow-up. By identifying these problem areas, we can help patients tap into the best available resources, address these needs and optimize their care.”
The ultimate goal of the CSOI is to enhance supportive care services that improve quality of life for patients and families affected by cancer by reducing physical and emotional burdens throughout the cancer care continuum, from diagnosis through survivorship and end of life care. The approach of the initiative to achieve this goal is two-fold, to ensure that patients:
The CSOI, in partnership with the Center for Business Models in Healthcare, began by assembling 35 Chicago-area institutions, including cancer treatment centers, support centers and hospice providers, and asking them to identify areas of greatest need in supportive cancer care.