A survey of 1144 cancer centers and 448 health services areas (HSAs) in the United States found that larger organizations were better equipped to support patients in need of mental health and chemical dependency services. These findings were published in the Journal of National Comprehensive Cancer Networks.

Although it is standard care to screen patients with cancer for psychosocial needs, it remains unclear whether patients are receiving adequate support. To assess available services, researchers from the Mayo Clinic analyzed data from 3 national databases.

Most hospitals offered mental health services (85.4%) but fewer than half offered chemical dependency services (45.5%).


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Hospitals that offered mental health services were more likely to be a member of a hospital system (adjusted odds ratio [aOR], 2.00; P =.002), a teaching hospital (aOR, 1.76; P =.006), and to have more hospital beds (aOR, 1.04; P <.001). Among HSAs, mental health services associated with the proportion of uninsured in the area (aOR, 0.90; P <.001), population size (aOR, 0.98; P =.002), diversity index (aOR, 0.98; P =.007), and mental health professional shortage status (aOR, 0.99; P =.044).

Offering chemical dependency services associated with nonprofit status (aOR, 3.48; P <.001), being nonfederal government funded (aOR, 2.85; P =.009), a member of a hospital system (aOR, 1.61; P =.008), and the number of hospital beds (aOR, 1.02; P <.001) among hospitals. The likelihood of offering chemical dependency services among HSAs was associated with the uninsured population (aOR, 0.92; P <.001) and diversity index (aOR, 0.97; P <.001).

This study had a high risk for incomplete or incorrect data, as hospitals self-reported information.

The study authors concluded that many patients with cancer in the United States had no access to chemical dependency or mental health services, indicating the need for innovative programs to assist patients with cancer who require and would benefit from these psychosocial services.

Reference

Niazi SK, Spaulding A, Brennan E, et al. Mental health and chemical dependency services at US cancer centers. J Natl Compr Canc Netw. 2021;19(7):829-838. doi:10.6004/jnccn.2020.7657