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Managing Distress in Oncology Patients: Description of an Innovative Online Educational Program for Nurses

Pasacreta, Jeannie V. PhD, RN; Kenefick, Amy L. PhD, APRN; McCorkle, Ruth PhD, FAAN

doi: 10.1097/01.NCC.0000339251.83571.f9

The American Psychosocial Oncology Society and the Individual Cancer Assistance Network have launched the online continuing education accredited program "ICAN: Distress Management for Oncology Nursing" to address the ability of oncology nurses to assess, treat, and refer patients with a range of psychosocial problems. An important goal of the program is to reduce traditional barriers to psychosocial oncology education by providing the oncology nursing community with easy access to information from experts in the field. There are 4 Internet webcasts: Nurse's Role in Recognizing Distress in Patients and Caregivers; Assessment Recommendations; Treatment Strategies; and Principles and Guidelines for Psychotherapy and Referral. The program examines the prevalence and dimensions of patient distress and offers instruction on how to effectively integrate screening tools, such as the Distress Thermometer and Problem Check List, into clinical practice. It provides details on relevant interventions and referral algorithms based on the National Comprehensive Cancer Network Guidelines for Distress Management. It explores the devastating impact of psychological distress on quality of life, and the unique position of nurses in busy inpatient settings, outpatient clinics, and offices to detect, intervene, and refer to appropriate services. Providing information over the Internet addresses common barriers to learning, including schedule and time constraints.

Authors' Affiliations: School of Nursing (Drs Pasacreta and Kenefick) and School of Medicine (Dr Kenefick), University of Connecticut, Storrs; and School of Nursing, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut (Dr McCorkle).

Corresponding author: Amy L. Kenefick, PhD, APRN, School of Nursing, University of Connecticut, 321 Glenbrook Rd, Storrs, CT 06269-2026 (

Accepted for publication June 16, 2008.

© 2008 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.