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The effects of multi-disciplinary psycho-social care on socio-economic problems in cancer patients: a cluster-randomized trial.

Singer S, Roick J, Meixensberger J, Schiefke F, Briest S, Dietz A, Papsdorf K, Mössner J, Berg T, Stolzenburg JU, Niederwieser D, Keller A, Kersting A, Danker H

Support Care Cancer. 2018 Jun;26(6):1851-1859

A powered cluster-randomized trial of 13 hospital wards where cancer patients were treated (570 patients in the stepped care arm, 442 in the standard arm) looked at whether a multi-disciplinary approach to psycho-social care had an effect on financial problems and helped patients return to work. The stepped care included screening for distress. If present, the doctor discussed the results with the patient and if further support was needed, the patient was referred to the hospital’s services. Financial difficulties were assessed using the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer Quality of Life Core Questionnaire (EORTC QLQ-C30).  Results showed that patients in the stepped care arm with financial difficulties at baseline had less financial difficulties at discharge (p = 0.01). Looking at employment, in patients <65 years of age and who were not retired at baseline, stepped care did not have an effect on being employed half a year later (p = 0.52); however, this result needs to be interpreted with caution as 58% of patients were retired at baseline and only 548 patients were < 65 years old.

Composed by Elaine Boland.

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