Online Screening for Cancer-Related Distress Feasible

Full online screening plus personalized triage most effective for some
By Lindsey Marcellin
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Oct. 14 (HealthDay News) -- Online screening for distress in cancer patients is feasible and effective, according to research published online Oct. 12 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Linda E. Carlson, of the University of Calgary in Alberta, and colleagues implemented and evaluated an online distress screening program for new patients with breast and lung cancer. Patients were randomized to one of three levels of screening: minimal screening; full screening; or triage, which included full screening plus optional personalized phone triage with referral to resources. All patients were reassessed three months later.

Distress was prevalent in both lung cancer and breast cancer patients at baseline. At follow-up, 20 percent fewer lung cancer patients in the triage group continued to be highly distressed compared with the lung cancer patients in the less intense distress screening levels. Breast cancer patients in the two most intense screening levels (triage and full screening) also had significantly less distress than those in the minimal screening group.

"In sum, this randomized controlled trial found that routine online screening is feasible in a large cancer center and that intensive screening including feedback to patients and care providers followed by personalized triage may help to reduce future distress levels, particularly when coupled with the uptake of appropriate resources," the authors write.

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