Psycho-oncologic care is more frequently provided in centers specializing in certain cancer types vs others and in longer-certified centers, according to a study published in the journal Cancer.1

Extensive research has demonstrated that patients with cancer and cancer survivors require expert support to manage the psychological and social consequences of the disease.

Requirements put forth by the German Cancer Society’s cancer center certification system include the routine provision of psycho-oncologic care and social service counseling for every patient with cancer; however, variation in psychosocial care provision exists in these certified centers. Therefore, researchers sought to identify organizational and structural characteristics in hospitals that account for these differences.

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For the study, investigators analyzed data routinely collected during the certification process of 879 center sites in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and Italy.

Results showed that there were substantial differences in psychosocial care provision for different cancer types. For example, psychosocial care provision was greater in centers specializing in breast cancer compared with those that specialize in prostate cancer.

Researchers also found that psycho-oncologic care provision was more common in longer-certified centers and less so in centers in rural areas and university hospitals. It is unclear, however, as to what causes much of the variation between hospitals.

“Although the implementation of mandatory psychosocial services generally provides patients with access to psycho-oncologic care and social service counseling, the wide differences in the provision of counseling indicate that additional measures are needed to avoid inequalities resulting from the center at which a patient receives cancer treatment,” the authors conclude.


1. Kowalski C, Ferencz J, Singer S, Weis I, Wesselmann S. Frequency of psycho-oncologic and social service counseling in cancer centers relative to center site and hospital characteristics: findings from 879 center sites in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and Italy. Cancer. 2016 Aug 2. doi: 10.1002/cncr.30202.