Evaluating psychological support services available for men living with prostate cancer and their carers and families across England

Article (Comment) extract: British Journal of Urology International, September 2019

Frank Chinegwundoh & Roshani Perera

DOI: 10.1111/bju.14959

“To date there is no national view of what level of psychological services are being offered to men living with prostate cancer and their families and carers across England. In line with the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act (2000), Tackle (The National Federation of Prostate Support Groups) sought to understand what specific psychological support is on offer to men living with prostate cancer through hospital Trusts across England.

The results showed that out of the 118 hospital Trusts that responded, only 28% had a record of the number of men living with prostate cancer being offered and referred to psychological support services. Furthermore, just 36% of Trusts reported offering psychological support services to the majority (<90%) of men living with the disease, a mere three Trusts referred all men living with prostate cancer to a psychological support service when offered, and seven said they did not routinely offer or have access to such services.

One of the most alarming findings was that although most men (93%) living with prostate cancer beyond active treatment have access to psychological support services, the scope of services offered varied widely, ranging from the highest level of psychological support to provision of a Macmillan psychological support booklet.

Looking beyond the UK, in September 2019, the Prostate Cancer Foundation in Australia introduced a new Psychosocial Model of Care for Men with Prostate Cancer, recommending that after the diagnosis of prostate cancer and regularly through treatment and surveillance, men should be screened for distress and their psychological and quality of life concerns should be explored. It is also important to consider sexual recovery after prostate cancer treatment for both patients and partners in relation to functional, emotional, and relationship domains. Our present findings show that the NHS is moving to a point where it over-relies on charities providing psychological support services and concerns are being raised by the charitable sector about the sustainability of this model. Most of the services offered by charitable organisations are volunteer-led or supported through their national/local fundraising efforts. For these services to be sustainable and fit for purpose there needs to be a national framework in line with clinical guidelines and underpinned with Government funding, so that there is a more consistent and equitable approach to providing psychological support for men with prostate cancer across England.”

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