Improving Psychosocial Distress Screening: A Quality Improvement Project Using Staff Education Public Deposited

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Last Modified
  • March 22, 2019
  • Holt, Melissa
    • Affiliation: School of Nursing
  • Background/Purpose: Evidence shows that psychosocial care can improve cancer outcomes. Distress screening (DS), Standard 3.2 of the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer, provides oncology practices with a method of identifying their patient’s psychosocial needs. This Quality Improvement (QI) project was implemented at an academic cancer center in the southeastern US. Planning meetings with administration identified problems impacting DS implementation, one of which was a need for education. The purpose of this project was to educate clinic staff on engagement strategies and the importance of DS to promote improved psychosocial care. Methods: The Institute for Healthcare Improvement’s Model for Improvement guided this project, which was focused on the staff employed in the Adult Oncology Clinic. Staff members were surveyed pre- and post-intervention. The intervention used education and coaching sessions that focused on how to engage with patients, the value of DS, and the importance of psychosocial care. A patient educational handout was created for staff to use as a tool when engaging patients in screening. A chi-square test was used to analyze responses reported from pre- and post-intervention surveys. Results: A significant difference was found in 2 survey areas: the staff’s perception of the importance of DS to patients, χ2 (4, N = 38) = 10.41, p = .03, and the comfort level of staff in engaging in DS, χ2 (4, N = 38) = 9.82, p = .04. Staff shared the following: they lacked comfort in DS on the first visit, the patient handout helped make engagement go more smoothly, and the training helped improve their ability to talk with patients about distress. Conclusions and Implications: Cancer centers should not assume that their staff understands the importance of psychosocial care or is comfortable with how to screen for psychosocial distress. A QI process can identify staff learning needs to improve outcomes.
Date of publication
Resource type
  • Bryant, Ashley
  • Soltis-Jarrett, Victoria
  • McCann, Meghan
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Graduation year
  • 2018

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