Oral Presentation COSA-IPOS Joint Scientific Meeting 2012

Patient, clinician and consumer views on inter-professional psychosocial communication within the cancer care team and the use of a psychologists’ referral letter feedback template. (#94)

Belinda Thewes 1 , Phyllis Butow 1 , Esther Davis 1 , Jane Turner 2 , Catherine Mason 3
  1. School of Psychology, University of Sydney, Camperdown , NSW , Australia
  2. School of Medicine , University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
  3. Sydney West Cancer Network, Nepean Cancer Care Centre, Nepean Hospital, Penrith, New South Wales, Australia

Psychologists’ written communication in oncology settings must be timely and efficient whilst addressing information needs of clinical staff, medico-legal and professional requirements, and consumer preferences.  However, there is little empirical data to guide psychologists’ inter-professional communication. Aims: To assess: a) psychologists’ communication practices and attitudes towards referral feedback; b) oncology clinicians’ feedback preferences and attitudes to a psychosocial referral feedback template; and c) consumers’ attitudes towards different methods of communicating psychosocial information within the cancer team.  Methods: Psychologist and oncology clinicians (oncologists, nurses, care coordinators, GPs) were invited to participate by collaborating professional groups and completed an on-line survey that contained purpose-designed items addressing study aims. Consumers were recruited through oncology clinics, newspaper advertisements, and email invitations distributed by consumer groups. Consumers participated in face-to-face or telephone interviews. Results: 44 psychologists, 14 oncology clinicians and 11 consumers participated in this descriptive study. Psychologists most commonly recorded their initial consultations in the patient’s medical record (69% of psychologists did this ‘most of the time’ or ‘all of the time’ but 22%  said they did not regularly feedback the results of an initial assessment to a referrer). At least 75% of psychologists and clinical staff rated 18 topics as ‘essential’ or ‘important’ to include in a referral feedback letter. Seven of the top 10 topics were shared. These included: consultation date, current issues of concern, patient’s perception of their medical situation and treatment, current psychiatric diagnoses, impact of psychological state on treatment, and risk to self or others.  Consumers preferred a psychologist’s referral letter template (7/11), yet this was poorly endorsed by clinicians (1/14) who preferred a traditional letter (8/14) as the best method of communication.  Conclusions: This study provides preliminary data to help develop guidelines for inter-professional communication between psychologists and other members of the cancer care team. 

This abstract could form part of Symposium proposal 'Interprofessional Education for Psychosocial Oncology - The View From Three Jurisdictions'