Purpose of review
Supportive care services have evolved overtime to meet the growing supportive care need of patients with cancer and their families. In this review, we summarize existing definitions of supportive care, highlight empiric studies on supportive care delivery, and propose an integrated conceptual framework on supportive cancer care.
Supportive care aims at addressing the patients’ physical, emotional, social, spiritual, and informational needs throughout the disease trajectory. Interdisciplinary teams are needed to deliver multidimensional care. Oncology teams have an important role providing supportive care in the front lines and referring patients to supportive care services such as palliative care, social work, rehabilitation, psycho-oncology, and integrative medicine. However, the current model of as needed referral and siloed departments can lead to heterogeneous access and fragmented care. To overcome these challenges, we propose a conceptual model in which supportive care services are organized under one department with a unified approach to patient care, program development, and research. Key features of this model include universal referral, systematic screening, tailored specialist involvement, streamlined care, collaborative teamwork, and enhanced outcomes.
Further research is needed to develop and test innovative supportive care models that can improve patient outcomes.