Supportive Care in Cancer

, Volume 24, Issue 7, pp 2945–2952 | Cite as

The association of psychosocial screening and service provision in pediatric oncology: the Psychosocial Assessment Tool (PAT2.0) into clinical practice

  • M. C. McCarthy
  • S. DeGraves
  • C. E. Wakefield
  • M. J. Bowden
  • L. V. Marks
  • L. K. Williams
Original Article



Distress screening in oncology has been widely endorsed in recent years. However, current knowledge of the impact of screening on delivery of clinical psychosocial services is limited. This study investigated the association between screening and psychosocial services in the early period following diagnosis of childhood cancer.


The Psychosocial Assessment Tool (PAT2.0) was administered by clinical social workers in two pediatric oncology centers shortly following diagnosis. Psychosocial service activity in the first 8 weeks post diagnosis was collected via social work surveys and extraction of information from hospital databases.


PAT2.0 and psychosocial service data were obtained for 89 families with a child newly diagnosed with cancer. Distribution of PAT2.0 risk categories was consistent with previous studies (57.3 % universal, 38.2 % targeted, 4.5 % clinical). Significant, weak to moderate correlations between PAT2.0 and social workers’ estimates of psychosocial risk were observed. No significant differences in the amount of psychosocial services provided to families with “universal” versus “elevated” (i.e., targeted or clinical) risk were found. Number of days in hospital was strongly and positively associated with the amount of psychosocial services families received in the first 8 weeks following diagnosis.


Psychosocial risk, as measured by the PAT2.0, and allocation of psychosocial services were not significantly associated in the early period following diagnosis. Further investigation is required to understand if differences emerge over time when psychosocial screening is implemented clinically. Development of clinical pathways of care needs to account for patients who may predominantly be treated in the outpatient setting.


Screening Pediatric oncology Distress Psychosocial Childhood cancer 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. C. McCarthy
    • 1
    • 2
  • S. DeGraves
    • 3
  • C. E. Wakefield
    • 4
    • 5
  • M. J. Bowden
    • 1
  • L. V. Marks
    • 1
  • L. K. Williams
    • 1
  1. 1.Murdoch Childrens Research InstituteParkvilleAustralia
  2. 2.Children’s Cancer CentreRoyal Children’s HospitalParkvilleAustralia
  3. 3.Children’s Cancer CentreMonash Children’s HospitalClaytonAustralia
  4. 4.Behavioral Sciences Unit proudly supported by the Kids with Cancer Foundation, Kids Cancer CentreSydney Children’s HospitalSydneyAustralia
  5. 5.Discipline of Pediatrics, School of Women’s and Children’s Health, UNSW MedicineUniversity of New South WalesSydneyAustralia

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