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An audit was carried out of 51 oncology patients referred to a clinical psychology service to identify the characteristics of patients selected for referral and to assess change following psychological intervention. A survey was conducted of an unselected sample of oncology patients representative of the workload of the oncology department from which the referrals came, to determine the prevalence of comparable psychosocial problems among patients who were not referred for help and to assess whether doctors were aware of the problems patients reported. Data were collected using the Hospital Anxiety and Depression (HAD) and Mental Adjustment to Cancer (MAC) scales and a problem checklist devised for this study. Referred patients were significantly more anxious and depressed (P < 0.001) and showed poorer adjustment on MAC scales than the surveyed sample, but 30% of the latter group warranted assessment for anxiety and 23% for depression. The number of psychosocial problems of their severity. Intervention was clinically significant mood disorder irrespective of the specific problems of their severity. Intervention was associated with a significant improvement in distress and problems for referred patients by the time of discharge. Psychosocial problems were often undetected by staff even in referred patients. The checklist is a feasible screening method for potentially remediable problems which are cumulatively a significant contributor to cancer patients' distress.

Original publication




Journal article


Br j cancer

Publication Date





229 - 235


Adaptation, Psychological, Adult, Aged, Anxiety, Depression, Female, Humans, Male, Medical Audit, Middle Aged, Neoplasms, Referral and Consultation