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  • Author: Kristine A. Donovan x
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Kristine A. Donovan and Paul B. Jacobsen

A 2005 survey of NCCN Member Institutions was among the first studies to evaluate the extent to which key elements of the NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology for Distress Management were being implemented as part of routine clinical practice. This study seeks to characterize current implementation of the guidelines by NCCN Member Institutions 7 years after the original study. Institutional representatives appointed to the NCCN Distress Management Panel were asked to complete an online survey in June 2012. The survey was similar to the 2005 survey, except that it solicited additional details about screening procedures. The survey was completed by representatives from 20 of 22 NCCN Member Institutions (91%). (Note: In this calculation, 1 consortium cancer cancer was counted as 2 NCCN Member Institutions.) Responses indicate that routine screening for distress is being conducted at 70% of institutions, with 25% screening inpatients and 60% screening outpatients. Among institutions screening outpatients, 50% screen all outpatients and 50% screen only certain subgroups of outpatients. In terms of method, 85% of institutions conducting screening use a patient self-report measure either alone or in combination with an interview; the Distress Thermometer is used at 59% of institutions that use a self-report measure. Findings show modest progress since 2005 in implementing guideline recommendations regarding distress screening, with a 7% increase in institutions conducting any routine screening and a 10% increase in institutions screening all outpatients routinely. Greater progress is evident in the use of self-report measures as part of screening, with a 23% increase in their use alone or in combination with an interview.

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Young D. Chang, Jae-Woo Jung, Ritika Oberoi-Jassal, Jongphil Kim, Sahana Rajasekhara, Meghan Haas, Joshua Smith, Vijay Desai, Kristine A. Donovan and Diane Portman

Background: Information about the frequency of cannabinoid use and the clinical characteristics of its users in oncology supportive care is limited. This study explored associations between cannabinoid use and cancer-related clinical characteristics in a cancer population. Patients and Methods: This retrospective review included 332 patients who had a urine drug test (UDT) for tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) together with completion of an Edmonton Symptom Assessment Scale (ESAS) and cannabinoid history questionnaire on the same day that urine was obtained during 1 year in the supportive care clinic. Results: The frequency of positive results for THC in a UDT was 22.9% (n=76). Significant statistical differences were seen between THC-positive and THC-negative patients for age (median of 52 [lower quartile, 44; upper quartile, 56] vs 58 [48; 67] years; P<.001), male sex (53.9% vs 39.5%; P=.034), and past or current cannabinoid use (65.8% vs 26.2%; P<.001). Statistical significance was observed in ESAS items between the THC-positive and THC-negative groups for pain (7 [lower quartile, 5; upper quartile; 8] vs 5 [3; 7]; P=.001), nausea (1 [0; 3] vs 0 [0; 3]; P=.049), appetite (4 [2; 7] vs 3 [0; 5.75]; P=.015), overall well-being (5.5 [4; 7] vs 5 [3; 6]; P=.002), spiritual well-being (5 [2; 6] vs 3 [1; 3]; P=.015), insomnia (7 [5; 9] vs 4 [2; 7]; P<.001), and total ESAS (52 [34; 66] vs 44 [29; 54]; P=.001). Among patients who reported current or past cannabinoid use, THC-positive patients had higher total scores and scores for pain, appetite, overall well-being, spiritual well-being, and insomnia than THC-negative patients. Conclusions: Patients with cancer receiving outpatient supportive care who had positive UDT results for THC had higher symptom severity scores for pain, nausea, appetite, overall and spiritual well-being, and insomnia compared with their THC-negative counterparts. These results highlight potential opportunities to improve palliative care.