Collaborative Care in Cancer Treatment
Over 1.7 million people are diagnosed with cancer each year, and about 7 million people currently live with a cancer diagnosis in the United States. Studies show that over one in three men and women will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime. While these numbers are startling, advancements in treatment now help cancer patients live longer, with over two-thirds of diagnosed patients surviving 5 years or more. There is an increasing push toward not just maintaining a patient's life, but their quality of life. Clinics are striving to optimize the emotional well-being of a patient as well as their physical health, and they can do so by integrating psychosocial care into oncology care.
A growing number of randomized, controlled trials have shown the adaptability of Collaborative Care (CoCM) to cancer treatment settings. A recent meta-analysis of published studies in diverse oncology patient populations and settings showed that CoCM is effective in meeting the psychosocial health needs of cancer patients, including low-income and racial and ethnic minority patients, and is cost-effective. The model has been shown to have many advantages over usual care for improving psychosocial health outcomes and quality of life. Furthermore, studies of CoCM show heightened adherence to cancer treatment and longer-term benefits compared to studies of medications or psychotherapy alone.
Technology continues to enhance healthcare access, and this includes extending psychosocial care to cancer patients. Evidence shows that CoCM utilizing telehealth and remote care teams is effective for cancer patients, overcoming the barriers presented by shortages in psychosocial oncology specialists. CoCM's flexibility makes it sustainable and adaptable, highly important traits for diverse cancer care settings.
Read more about our ongoing research project: Using technology to optimize Collaborative Care management of depression in rural and urban cancer centers
Collaborative Care’s focus on patient-centered and population-based care is consistent with today’s health care environment. It provides centralized psychosocial care, increasing convenience for cancer patients and their families. A care manager, supervised by a psychiatrist with expertise in treating cancer patients, is located within the oncology clinic and works closely with oncology, primary care, and other supportive care providers to create a cohesive team that can deliver comprehensive, holistic care. Clinical Social workers, nurses, or psychologists can fill the role of the care manager, adding to the model's flexibility. Collaborative Care uses evidence-based pharmacological and behavioral strategies and validated treatment response outcomes, complementing the multidisciplinary, measurement-based nature of oncology care.
Using Collaborative Care in cancer treatment has proved effective in real world settings as well as in research trials. The Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA) was one of the first cancer care centers in the country to integrate psychosocial care into routine cancer care using CoCM. SCCA has since helped many other cancer centers implement the model. Led by faculty and staff from the UW Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and SCCA, the Integrated Psychosocial Oncology Care program has successfully used Collaborative Care to improve patient outcomes, patient and provider satisfaction, and offer the most holistic and compassionate care possible.
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