The role of implementation science in improving distress assessment and management in oncology: a commentary on “Screening for psychosocial distress among patients with cancer: implications for clinical practice, healthcare policy, and dissemination to enhance cancer survivorship”
Despite considerable evidence that psychosocial interventions can effectively relieve distress in patients with cancer, many individuals who could benefit from these interventions do not receive them. A proposed solution to this problem is the establishment of programs in oncology settings that routinely screen for distress and refer patients for appropriate psychosocial care. This commentary addresses a review by Ehlers et al. that describes policies and procedures related to distress screening, summarizes prior research on this topic, and identifies key areas for future research. Among their major conclusions is the need for research to fill the gap in knowledge about how best to implement new distress screening programs as well as optimize the use and efficiency of existing programs. This commentary focuses on how the types of study methods, designs, and outcomes that are commonplace in implementation science to facilitate the integration of research into practice can be applied to distress screening programs. Priorities identified include designing and conducting pragmatic clinical trials, evaluating multilevel interventions, and using hybrid designs to simultaneously evaluate clinical effectiveness and barriers and facilitators of implementation. Use of these approaches holds considerable potential for developing an evidence base that can promote more widespread adoption of effective distress screening programs and inform further development of standards and policies related to the psychosocial care of patients with cancer.
Jacobsen, P. B., & Norton, W. E. (2019). The role of implementation science in improving distress assessment and management in oncology: a commentary on "Screening for psychosocial distress among patients with cancer: implications for clinical practice, healthcare policy, and dissemination to enhance cancer survivorship". Transl Behav Med, 9(2), 292-295. doi:10.1093/tbm/ibz022