Management of Distress in Patients with Cancer-Are We Doing the Right Thing

Joost Dekker, Kristi D. Graves, Terry A. Badger, Michael A. Diefenbach

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Background: Screening for distress and referral for the provision of psychosocial care is currently the preferred approach to the management of distress in patients with cancer. To date, this approach has shown a limited effect on the reduction of distress. Recent commentaries have argued that the implementation of distress screening should be improved. On the other hand, the underlying assumption that a referral for psychosocial care is required for distressed patients can be questioned. This has led to the development of an alternative approach, called emotional support and case finding. Purpose: In the context of finding innovative solutions to tomorrow's health challenges, we explore ways to optimize distress management in patients with cancer. Methods and Results: We discuss three different approaches: (i) optimization of screening and referral, (ii) provision of emotional support and case finding, and (iii) a hybrid approach with multiple assessments, using mobile technology. Conclusions: We suggest continued research on the screening and referral approach, to broaden the evidence-base on improving emotional support and case finding, and to evaluate the utility of multiple assessments of distress with new interactive mobile tools. Lessons learned from these efforts can be applied to other disease areas, such as cardiovascular disease or diabetes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)978-984
Number of pages7
JournalAnnals of Behavioral Medicine
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2020


  • Cancer
  • Case finding
  • Distress
  • Implementation
  • Screening
  • Support

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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