IMERS – Improve the Mental Health Referral System in Oncology Care 2015-2016

In 2008, World Health Organization registered 12 million new cancer diagnosis and 7 million cancer deaths. These numbers are expected to double by 2030. More than one third of patients diagnosed with cancer have a significantly high level of distress. These patients do not adjust effectively to cancer, have a low quality of life, require increased medical care, and, thus, call for heightened medical costs. Clinical controlled trials showed that patients with high levels of distress can benefit from psycho-social interventions. However, these patients are often not screened for distress or referred to a mental health professional. Mental health care should be integrated with oncology care to effectively treat patients with cancer.
The purpose of this study is to identify individual, organizational and legislative factors impacting the mental health referral system in oncology care in five South Eastern European countries, since, to our knowledge, no previous study has done this. As a result of the study, guidelines will be developed to improve the mental health referral system in all countries and dissemination activities will support the exchange of good practices in the field.

Objectives:
Obs1: Describe the national laws and guidelines supporting mental care and referral in oncology institutions in five Eastern-European countries: Romania, Bulgaria, Moldova, Serbia and Albania.
Obs2: By using the Distress Thermometer, identify distress among patients with cancer in in each of the five countries.
Obs3: Identify the need and the frequency of mental health referral in oncology institutions in each of the five countries.
Obs4: Assess the feasibility of using a distress screening instrument in oncology settings by interviewing oncologists, mental health care professionals and oncology patients.

Coordinator: Babes-Bolyai University from Cluj-Napoca

Funder: The Fogarty International Center at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) through the University of California Berkeley

Total budget: 13300 Euro