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Oncology Nursing Society Position

Implementing Screening for Distress: The Joint Position Statement From the American Psychosocial Oncology Society, Association of Oncology Social Work, and Oncology Nursing Society

ONF 2013, 40(5), 423-424 DOI:

In 2015, the American College of Surgeons (ACoS) Commission on Cancer (CoC) will require cancer centers to implement screening programs for psychosocial distress as a new criterion for accreditation.1 Distress, an indicator of suffering and predictor of poor health and quality of life outcomes throughout the disease trajectory, is common and treatable.2-10 Emerging research suggests that screening for and addressing distress not only enhances quality of life but may also be associated with improved cancer outcomes.11-13 Unfortunately, distress often goes unrecognized in oncology care, necessitating the development of systematic methods for its identification and management.14,15 Our organizations wholly endorse the new CoC standard 3.2 on psychosocial distress screening and recognize that it will help address unmet psychosocial needs and improve "cancer care for the whole patient."16 While the CoC standard articulates basic components and processes that must be included in the implementation of screening, there remain some key issues that we believe are critical to quality patient care. This statement summarizes our position on these issues.


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