Multidisciplinary Cancer Care

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Bridging the gap between psychosocial research and clinical cancer care.
Posted On: November 29, 2016
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Conference attendee, Virginia Boquiren, Postdoctoral Fellow. Supervisor: Dr. Mary Jane Esplen, TGHRI
Conference: 18th International Psycho-Oncology Society (IPOS) Congress, October 17-21, 2016, Dublin, Ireland

Conference Highlight: IPOS 2016 titled Psycho-Oncology: Science, Arts and Practice – Bridging the Gap, showcased presentations demonstrating the  application of evidence-based psychosocial research into clinical cancer care.

Conference Article: The field of psychosocial oncology focuses on “understanding and treating the social, psychological, emotional, spiritual, quality-of-life and functional aspects of cancer,” throughout the entire illness trajectory [Retrieved from].

The focus of IPOS 2016 was on showcasing worldwide endeavours bridging the gap between research and clinical practice. This was apparent in the number and variety of symposia and paper presentations at the conference. Interventions for dealing with cancer survivorship issues such as prevention (e.g., vaccination, screening), fatigue, insomnia, fear of recurrence and challenges to fertility and returning to work were presented. These interventions were tailored for a wide age range of survivors (i.e., from pediatric to geriatric populations), for patients and family caregivers, across a variety of cancer types. There were also many symposia dedicated to e-health interventions, perhaps mirroring the growing trend for the use of the internet and technology in providing psychosocial oncological treatment.

One of the highlights of IPOS 2016 was the pointed focus on the growth of psychosocial oncology programs worldwide and on the challenges of providing psychosocial cancer services to minorities and vulnerable populations (e.g., patients with severe mental illness). The opening plenary lecture was given by  Dr. Chioma Asuza, a clinical psychologist from Nigeria, who talked about the challenges of building a psychosocial oncology program in developing countries, including establishing a program despite the lack of financial resources and institutional structure and support; ensuring that a sufficient number of health care professionals with the necessary skills are being trained; and changing sociocultural disease-related attitudes that might impact treatment accessibility and delivery.

The diverse nature of presentations and posters at IPOS 2016 were indicative of the multidisciplinary nature of the field of psychosocial oncology and the increasing importance of research efforts with clinical application and on translating that body of science into evidence-based cancer care.