A Narrative Review of the Literature to Assess the State of Screening Instruments for Psychological/Psychosocial Distress in Oncology Settings
AuthorStevens, Jennifer M.
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AbstractPsychosocial distress is reported as being quite prevalent, yet no standardized tool has been universally accepted to screen for distress. Many tools have been created and validated for use to detect various components of distress, such as anxiety, depression, coping, and others. The objective of this narrative literature review was to assess the state of screening for psychological/psychosocial distress in oncology and in the broader context of adult patient populations with medical diagnoses, compare the National Comprehensive Cancer Network Distress Thermometer Tool with two other common tools currently in use, and to elaborate on themes that were discovered in reviewing the literature. Literature reviews were performed to explore the state of psychosocial distress screening implementation within oncology, assess for psychometric tools that are being utilized in adult patient populations in other disciplines and to select two common tools to compare with the Distress Thermometer. A total of four literature searches were completed for this integrative review. The Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale and the Patient Health Questionnaire were found to be common in the literature, and were selected for comparison. The three screening tools were found to be as effective in screening for distress, specifically anxiety and depression, though the Distress Thermometer was found to be inadequate to diagnose psychiatric disorders when present. Themes within the literature included: psychosocial factors bear influence on outcomes and should be assessed, lack of standardization in screening practices is evident, short tools, like those evaluated in this review, are best utilized as an initial assessment to guide referral, and that short assessments are well-tolerated by patients and effective for detecting distress.
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