Scoping the psychological support practices of Australian health professionals working with people with primary brain tumor and their families

Tamara Ownsworth, Katarzyna Lion, Ursula M. Sansom-Daly, Kerryn Pike, Eng Siew Koh, Georgia K.B. Halkett, Mark B. Pinkham, Raymond J. Chan, Haryana M. Dhillon, for the BRAINS Program Investigators

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Abstract

Objectives: This study aimed to scope the psychological support practices of Australian health professionals providing supportive care to adults with primary brain tumor. Method: Health professionals from multidisciplinary organizations and cancer support services completed an online survey focused on psychological support for people with brain tumor (PwBT) and family members, and perceived barriers or gaps in support provision. Results: 107 professionals, mainly from psychology (45%), nursing (20%), and social work (10%) backgrounds, completed the survey. Scope of practice differed according to discipline, with psychologists and nurses most likely to screen for psychological distress (71%–76%), and psychologists more typically providing at least one psychological support session (78%). Psychologists were more likely to screen for cognitive impairment (31%), whereas nurses and social workers more commonly provided family-based support (62%–73%). Psychological support was more frequently provided in the long-term management phase (78%) than early post-diagnosis/treatment (45%). System-level barriers to accessing psychological support were most frequently identified, which included limited resources and funding, insufficient staff time, lengthy waitlists and costs, poor service coordination, and lack of staff with brain tumor-specific training. Conclusions: The provision of psychological support for PwBT varies according to discipline, setting and management phase. Further research on different models of psychosocial care is needed to inform strategies to address organizational and policy factors impacting professionals' scope of practice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1313-1321
Number of pages9
JournalPsycho-Oncology
Volume31
Issue number8
Early online date25 Mar 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2022

Keywords

  • brain tumor
  • cancer
  • health professionals
  • psycho-oncology
  • psychosocial support

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