Cancer Care for the Whole Patient

This is the Forward to Cancer Care for the Whole Patient
You can read the whole study using the flash reader to the left from the National Academy of Sciences.
Cancer Care for the Whole Patient: Meeting Psychosocial Health Needs is an important new addition to a series of Institute of Medicine reports that prescribe actions needed to improve the quality of U.S. health care. Following in the footsteps of Crossing the Quality Chasm: A New Health System for the 21st Century, Improving the Quality of Health Care for Mental and Substance Use Conditions, and other reports in the Quality Chasm series, this report takes another step forward and attends to the psychological/behavioral and social problems that can accompany serious
illness. Although the report examines psychosocial health needs from the perspective of individuals with a diagnosis of cancer, the recommendations in this report are also relevant to clinicians, other health care providers, payors, and quality oversight organizations concerned with the care of individuals with other serious and complex medical conditions.

Research has amply demonstrated the significance of psychosocial factors to health and health care. Incorporating evidence from studies of psychological and social determinants of health, clinical research on the effectiveness of psychological and behavioral services, health services research on the effective organization and delivery of health care, and biologic research in fields such as psychoneuroimmunology, this report documents the consequences of failing to meet psychosocial health needs. Importantly, it translates scientific research findings into practical applications for improving the quality of cancer care.

The result is a new standard of care for cancer care, a standard that incorporates acknowledgement, treatment, and management of psychosocial problems. While this report deals specifically with cancer patients, the lesson to improve the quality of care by focusing on the psychosocial needs of the whole patient will apply as well to many other conditions.

Harvey V. Fineberg, MD, PhD
President, Institute of Medicine

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