Caseworker May Improve Health of Cancer Patients

-- A. Agrawal, PhD

Thursday, November 26, 2009

THURSDAY, Nov. 26 (HealthDay News) -- Providing feedback on mental and physical health to a telephone caseworker, and receiving management strategies, may improve supportive care outcomes in cancer patients, according to a study published online Nov. 16 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Afaf Girgis, Ph.D., from the University of Newcastle in Callaghan, Australia, and colleagues randomly assigned 356 patients with non-localized breast or colorectal cancers to usual care, a telephone caseworker, or an oncologist/general practitioner. Patients were surveyed regarding their mental and physical health, which, for the telephone caseworker and oncologist/general practitioner groups, were used to generate feedback to their respective provider.

The researchers found that the telephone caseworker group reported a significant improvement in physical functioning at six months, and fewer patients reported having unmet needs. This group was also significantly more likely to discuss issues of concern, have referrals made, and to strongly agree that participating in the program improved communication with their health care team.

"In conclusion, these results suggest that feedback of patient-reported outcomes, accompanied by management strategies, to community-based telephone caseworkers holds some promise as an acceptable model to improve supportive care outcomes for patients with cancer," Girgis and colleagues write.

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Specialties Cardiology
Diabetes & Endocrinology
Internal Medicine
Family Practice

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