Experiences of psycho-oncological counselling to support mental health in South Australians diagnosed with cancer

Jason Blunt, Joshua Trigg

Research output: Working paper/PreprintPreprint

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Effective delivery of psycho-oncological support requires understanding of client perceptions of counselling service effectiveness, psychosocial outcomes, and meeting of client support needs and expectations.

This study aimed to describe perceptions of clients accessing psycho-oncological counselling for people directly or indirectly affected by cancer, and describe perceived psychological distress, depression, and anxiety from pre-to post-counselling.

South Australian psycho-oncological counselling service clients were recruited (n=28). Psychological distress, anxiety, and depression were assessed before and after counselling sessions. Client expectations, experiences, and counselling outcomes were examined via pre-post-tests, and thematic analysis.

Clients reported reduced anxiety (t=-2.31, p=.029), depression (t=-2.51, p=.018), distress (t=-4.19, p
Benefits of counselling included reduced symptomology, receipt of knowledge and skills, and increased ability to manage everyday life. Supportive counselling significantly reduces distress and symptoms of anxiety and depression while supporting client and family functioning during cancer treatment.

Individual supportive counselling plays an integral role in lives of cancer patients and family members. Clients face concerns relating to cancer prognosis (e.g., recurrence fear), and to broader related experiences (e.g., social dynamics). Complex needs across cancer experience as a patient, carer, or other family member, requires that psycho-oncological counselling targets major client expectations, promotes benefits of counselling, and strategies for managing daily life events.
Original languageEnglish
PublishermedRxiv, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
Number of pages25
Publication statusPublished - 9 Aug 2023


  • psycho-oncological support
  • counselling
  • mental health
  • health care delivery
  • health care access


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