Cancer care today often provides state-of-the-science biomedical treatment, but fails to address the psychological and social (psychosocial) problems associated with the illness. These problems--including patients' lack of information or skills needed to manage the illness; anxiety, depression or other emotional problems; lack of transportation or other resources; and disruptions in work, school, and family life--can cause additional suffering, weaken adherence to prescribed treatments, and threaten patients' return to health.
Today, it is not possible to deliver good-quality cancer care without addressing patients' psychosocial health needs. All patients with cancer and their families should expect and receive cancer care that ensures the provision of appropriate psychosocial health services. The National Institutes of Health asked the IOM to study the delivery of psychosocial services to cancer patients and their families and identify ways to improve it. This report recommends ten actions that oncology providers, health policy makers, educators, health insurers, health plans, quality oversight organizations, researchers and research sponsors, and consumer advocates should undertake to ensure that this standard is met.