Emotional health of cancer patients in spotlight

01 Jun Emotional health of cancer patients in spotlight

Nearly $4 million is being invested in research to uncover how cancer treatment can better support patients’ emotional health.

The funding allocation to ten researchers in New South Wales comes following a study which found one in five people receiving cancer care in hospitals were never asked about their emotional wellbeing.

The findings, published in Psycho-Oncology in May, specifically concluded that “while the majority of patients received recommended care, treatment centres must continue to improve symptom screening rates, particularly for emotional distress.”

SolarisCare’s founder, Head of Haematology Dr David Joske, said the link between physical and emotional health was often overlooked.

“SolarisCare believes modern cancer treatment should be more than the eradication of disease, it needs to include the integration of services to treat a person’s physical and psychological health,” Dr Joske said.

“It was the absence of this that prompted the founding of SolarisCare in 2001. Our focus has remained firmly on helping people navigate cancer treatment by providing complementary therapies.”

SolarisCare’s range of services includes techniques giving patients an opportunity to discuss thoughts, feelings and concerns. It is intended to help patients feel more in control of their situation, more relaxed and less fearful of the future.

SolarisCare also offers cancer support centres which chief executive David Edwards said provided a welcoming environment for cancer patients and their carers to relax and reflect.

“We are truly focused on assisting with both the physical and emotional support of patients and carers,” Mr Edwards said.

“But while these services are available, not all healthcare professionals are aware of them which makes it all the more important to collaborate on research.”

Mr Edwards said SolarisCare fully supported the investment in new research to ensure the emotional health of patients was also looked after.

“We encourage and support communications between all health care professionals, complementary therapies, cancer patients and families with the aim of enhancing the understanding between these groups.”

Dr Joske said the key differentiator of SolarisCare’s offering was that it was based on medical research and aligned with medical professionals.

“Everything we do is based on evidence to prove it is of benefit to a patient’s treatment. Whether it be exercise or counselling, service users know that it’s being done with a clear purpose in mind,” Dr Joske said.

The $4 million worth of grants has been awarded by NSW Cancer Council.