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The Five Steps of Comprehensive Psychosocial Distress Screening

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Despite the growing recognition of the impact psychosocial distress has on the quality of life of patients with cancer, the implementation of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) Distress Management Guidelines and the mandate of evidence-based policy for routine distress screening continue to lag. To speed adoption of the guideline, the American Psychosocial Oncology Society (APOS) and Yale School of Nursing (YSN) launched the Screening for Psychosocial Distress Program in 2014. The program resulted in the development of five steps necessary to carry out routine psychosocial distress screening. The steps are consistent with the NCCN Distress Management Guidelines and the new criterion for accreditation by the American College of Surgeons (ACS) Commission on Cancer as of 2015. These five steps are as follows: (1) screening, (2) evaluating, (3) referring, (4) following up, and (5) documenting and quality improvement. The purpose of this article is to summarize the detailed procedure of the five steps for cancer care professionals—including oncologists, nurses, psychiatrists, psychologists, and social workers—so they can manage psychosocial distress efficiently in their own clinical environments.

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This work was partially supported by NIH Grant No. R25CA177553-02, Ruth McCorkle, PI.

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Mark Lazenby, Hui Tan, Nick Pasacreta, Elizabeth Ercolano, and Ruth McCorkle declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.

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Correspondence to Mark Lazenby.

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This article is part of the Topical Collection on Palliative Medicine

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Lazenby, M., Tan, H., Pasacreta, N. et al. The Five Steps of Comprehensive Psychosocial Distress Screening. Curr Oncol Rep 17, 22 (2015).

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