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Teresa L. Deshields

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Kristine A. Donovan, Teresa L. Deshields, Cheyenne Corbett, and Michelle B. Riba

The first NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology (NCCN Guidelines) for Distress Management were published in 1999. Since then, a number of other organizations have advocated for distress screening. Previous surveys of distress screening showed modest progress in implementation of the NCCN Guidelines for Distress Management by NCCN Member Institutions (MIs); this review examined whether further progress has been made. Representatives appointed to the NCCN Distress Management Panel or their designee were asked to complete an online survey in the summer of 2018. The survey was developed based on similar surveys performed in 2005 and 2012 and a survey of psychosocial staffing conducted in NCCN MIs in 2012. New items solicited details about triaging, rescreening, formal screening protocols, and tracking of distressed patients. The survey was completed by representatives from 23 of 27 NCCN MIs (85%). Among the responding institutions, 20 (87%) currently conduct routine screening for distress and 3 are piloting routine screening. All respondents reported use of a self-report measure to screen for distress, with the Distress Thermometer most often used. A total of 70% of respondents rescreen patients for distress and 83% reported having a formal distress screening protocol in place. Once triaged, 65% of institutions who routinely screen for distress track clinical contacts and referrals; 70% track rates of adherence to screening protocols. Findings suggest wide acceptance and implementation of the NCCN Guidelines. Most respondents reported the existence of a formal distress screening protocol, with routine tracking of clinical contacts and referrals and rates of protocol adherence. Clinical experience and the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer accreditation standard for cancer centers appear to have resulted in greater adoption and implementation of the guidelines, but considerable opportunities for improvement remain.

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Michael H. Levy, Michael D. Adolph, Anthony Back, Susan Block, Shirley N. Codada, Shalini Dalal, Teresa L. Deshields, Elisabeth Dexter, Sydney M. Dy, Sara J. Knight, Sumathi Misra, Christine S. Ritchie, Todd M. Sauer, Thomas Smith, David Spiegel, Linda Sutton, Robert M. Taylor, Jennifer Temel, Jay Thomas, Roma Tickoo, Susan G. Urba, Jamie H. Von Roenn, Joseph L. Weems, Sharon M. Weinstein, Deborah A. Freedman-Cass, and Mary Anne Bergman

These guidelines were developed and updated by an interdisciplinary group of experts based on clinical experience and available scientific evidence. The goal of these guidelines is to help patients with cancer experience the best quality of life possible throughout the illness trajectory by providing guidance for the primary oncology team for symptom screening, assessment, palliative care interventions, reassessment, and afterdeath care. Palliative care should be initiated by the primary oncology team and augmented by collaboration with an interdisciplinary team of palliative care experts.

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Jimmie C. Holland, Barbara Andersen, William S. Breitbart, Luke O. Buchmann, Bruce Compas, Teresa L. Deshields, Moreen M. Dudley, Stewart Fleishman, Caryl D. Fulcher, Donna B. Greenberg, Carl B. Greiner, Rev. George F. Handzo, Laura Hoofring, Charles Hoover, Paul B. Jacobsen, Elizabeth Kvale, Michael H. Levy, Matthew J. Loscalzo, Randi McAllister-Black, Karen Y. Mechanic, Oxana Palesh, Janice P. Pazar, Michelle B. Riba, Kristin Roper, Alan D. Valentine, Lynne I. Wagner, Michael A. Zevon, Nicole R. McMillian, and Deborah A. Freedman-Cass

The integration of psychosocial care into the routine care of all patients with cancer is increasingly being recognized as the new standard of care. These NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology for Distress Management discuss the identification and treatment of psychosocial problems in patients with cancer. They are intended to assist oncology teams identify patients who require referral to psychosocial resources and to give oncology teams guidance on interventions for patients with mild distress to ensure that all patients with distress are recognized and treated.