Enabling psychologists to address the psychological consequences of cancer

Nienke Zomerdijk, Christina Bryant, Lisa Beatty

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The number of people diagnosed with cancer in Australia continues to rise, with more than 1 in 22 Australians now living with a history of cancer. This increase is occurring in parallel with a growing body of evidence about the psychological problems faced by patients with cancer, and the beneficial effects of interventions specifically designed to address these needs. Despite this evidence, research suggests that many psychologists feel underequipped for the unique issues encountered in cancer settings. In light of the profound effects of the COVID−19 pandemic on people living with cancer, it is timely to reflect on the complex needs related to cancer, with the aim of ensuring that psychologists are equipped to enhance the wellbeing of patients. In this commentary we provide an overview of: (a) the key issues that can arise across the cancer continuum, and (b) the existing evidence-based resources and tools for the screening and management of these presenting concerns. This commentary concludes with a discussion of the emotional impact for psychologists working with cancer patients, and consideration of how access to professional training in this area might be enhanced.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)401-410
Number of pages10
JournalAustralian Psychologist
Issue number6
Early online date25 Jun 2023
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • cancer
  • education
  • emotional impact
  • psycho-oncology
  • Psychologist


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