In this project, we are studying the introduction of two linked services in the outpatient clinics of the Oxford Cancer Centre. We know that patients with cancer often have symptoms like pain, fatigue and depression which affect their day-to-day lives. The Cancer Centre has introduced the new services, in collaboration with Macmillan Cancer Support, to improve the way that we monitor and treat these symptoms.
The first service is the Symptom Monitoring Service (SMS). Staff from this service help patients to answer questionnaires about their symptoms before their appointment. The patient’s doctor or nurse can then use the questionnaires to monitor their symptoms and make sure they get the right treatments. The SMS will also follow up patients with a telephone assessment if they have a high score on the depression questionnaire.
The second service is called ‘Depression Care for People with Cancer’ (DCPC). Around 10% of patients with cancer also have depression and this often goes untreated. Patients who are found to have depression by the Symptom Monitoring Service may be offered DCPC. It includes medication and talking treatments for depression and is provided by a team of care managers and psychiatrists in the Cancer Centre who work the patient’s GP.
We already know that these services can be very helpful for patients because they have been studied in a large research programme. In this project, we are studying how well they work in the Oxford Cancer Centre and learning about how best to set them up in other hospitals.
This research is funded by the National Institute for Health Research’s Oxford CLAHRC.