Treat patient, not just the disease: holistic needs assessment for haematological cancer patients
Haematological malignancies can have devastating effects on the patients’ physical, emotional, psycho-sexual, educational and economic health. With the improvement of therapies patients with these malignancies are living longer, however significant proportion these patient show poor quality of life (QoL) due to various physical and psychological consequences of the disease and the treatments. Health-related QoL (HRQoL) is multi-dimensional and temporal, relating to a state of functional, physical, psychological and social/family well-being. Compared with the general population, HRQoL of these patients is worse in most dimensions. However without routine holistic need assessment (HNA), clinicians are unlikely to identify patients with clinically significant distress. Surviving cancer is a chronic life-altering condition with several factors negatively affecting their QoL, such as psychological problems, including depression and excessive fear of recurrence, as well as social aspects, such as unemployment and social isolation. These need to be adequately understood and addressed in the healthcare of long-term survivors of haematological cancer. Applying a holistic approach to patient care has many benefits and yet, only around 25% of cancer survivors in the UK receive a holistic needs assessment. The efforts of the last decade have established the importance of ensuring access to psychosocial services for haematological cancer survivors. We need to determine the most effective practices and how best to deliver them across diverse settings. Distress, like haematological cancer, is not a single entity, and one treatment does not fit all. Psychosocialoncology needs to increase its research in comparative effectiveness.
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