JPORP Welcome Editorial
Welcome to the inaugural issue of the Journal of Psychosocial Oncology Research and Practice (JPORP). We are honoured to accept the role of co-Editors-in-Chief of this exciting new outlet for psychosocial oncology research, which is now the official journal of the International Psycho-Oncology Society (IPOS). The Journal was created through the vision of the IPOS board of a venue that is open access, global, relevant, timely and responsive to the needs of the membership.
We would like to take this opportunity to highlight some elements of the Journal that we feel are particularly noteworthy. These include: the online open-access publishing model; the global focus; and the focus on clinically-relevant research and implementation science.
1 Online open-access
There has been a global move toward open science, and within this a recognition that traditional scientific publication models—peer-reviewed academic journals which require subscriptions or article download fees to access articles—have led to severe accessibility issues, disproportionally affecting users in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). The result of this is that only large academic institutions can afford subscriptions, and only users with ties to those networks, or the resources to independently purchase articles, gain access to the science. This perpetuates a cycle of privilege and effectively bars nonwealthy academic and lay users from accessing the full knowledge base of our profession. This includes a full spectrum of research knowledge users such as medical patients and family members, private medical practitioners, the media, NGOs, health advocates, citizen scientists, LMIC researchers, and the general public. It is currently estimated that >75% of all scientific publications are not accessible through open access.
The alternative model that has gained acceptance and momentum is open-access publishing, wherein part of the cost of publication is borne by scientists seeking to publish their work, rather than users themselves, in the form of article processing charges (APCs). The first knee-jerk reaction of researchers to this change was frequently skepticism, anger, and resentment; it seemed wrong and perhaps ethically questionable to have to “pay to publish.” People questioned the quality of the research appearing in open-access and the integrity of peer-review. The rapid proliferation of predatory new online journals only helped fuel this skepticism. However, attitudes are changing now that open access publishing is required by many funding agencies worldwide, mainstream respected publishers and journals are offering open access, and researchers are beginning to see higher rates of downloads and more citations of their work. On the downside, however, APCs can still be significant barriers to publication for many research teams.
We have taken this barrier into account in our publication model. Because JPORP is an online-only journal, APCs are much lower than in other open access journals (see https://journals.lww.com/jporp/Pages/openaccess.aspx for details). Additionally, IPOS has built discretion into the agreement with our publisher, such that we have the opportunity to waive APCs for special papers; for example, IPOS commissioned works such as summary articles from Award winners’ plenary talks at the World Congress, and position articles from IPOS committees or working groups. We have also set aside APC waivers for an initial set of unsolicited articles to be accepted in the new journal, of which several still remain. We believe these provisions will decrease barriers to publication associated with APCs, will improve the reach and influence of the work we publish, and allow relevant knowledge users such as patients themselves ready access to our work.
2 Global focus
We will be accepting articles across the spectrum of psychosocial oncology research and practice with the recognition of disparities in the level of psychosocial care available to people with cancer worldwide. With this in mind, we aim to emphasize papers addressing global priorities in cancer care, disparities in cancer incidence and outcomes. This includes publishing work that addresses steps to better identify and respond to the psychosocial needs of cancer patients across diverse geographic and cultural settings, and low cost easily implementable psychosocial care interventions. We also aim to target underserved groups such as First Nations and Aboriginal populations, who suffer a greater burden of cancer morbidity even in developed nations.
The psycho-oncology research community, through the leadership of IPOS, has achieved outstanding international recognition of the importance of psychosocial issues in cancer prevention and treatment. The broad recognition of emotional distress as “The 6th Vital Sign" in cancer care has signified the need for widespread implementation of screening for distress and access to sound evidence-based psychosocial interventions, supported through international clinical guidelines. Although many such interventions have been developed and shown efficacious in tertiary cancer care settings, moving from research to practice presents a significant challenge. Meeting this challenge will require research dedicated to clinical practice and health system change, including research that will inform the redesign of our interventions to ensure acceptability and feasibility. This requires interventions tailored to meet the varying clinical, social, and cultural contexts of cancer. Such an approach is clearly a priority in LMICs, where per capita funding for cancer care is often very low, and innovative dissemination and implementation strategies need to be developed and tested. Achieving a global impact in these areas requires a better understanding of the varying economic, cultural, and geographic factors that play a role in all aspects of cancer internationally. This is an important focus for the journal.
We aim to provide a vehicle for promoting the necessary integration of disciplines to address these global challenges in cancer. Through the journal, IPOS is committed to promoting the growth and dissemination of the evidence base for our field and contribution of such evidence to all facets of this world-wide challenge to improve cancer outcomes. This can be done by addressing the psychosocial perspectives in cancer prevention and early detection, and promoting psycho-oncology care across all stages of cancer, including advanced disease and palliative care.
Evidence-based policy development has a key role to play in moving our scientific developments forward to achieve these goals. Our aim includes supporting ready access to high quality research about effective policy development that can promote the necessary traction in building psycho-oncology services across these diverse geographic and cultural settings.
3 Clinical focus
Finally, we believe that to change practice, psychosocial oncology research has to focus not only on defining and describing the problems faced by cancer patients, survivors and caregivers, but on developing, testing, and implementing interventions and strategies to help relieve suffering. To make a difference in care, these strategies and programs need to be scalable and sustainable in large health care systems globally. To that end we encourage submissions related to psychosocial aspects of evidence-based cancer prevention, models and methods of screening for distress and symptom burden, programs targeting specialized populations such as children, adolescents, and young adults with cancer as well as older adults, and strengthening the contribution of psycho-oncology research to challenges in end of life care.
Research built on Implementation Science has the potential to provide key insights to the field and one that we hope to promote through the journal: new methods to improve the provision and reach of psycho-oncology services, particularly to underserved populations, and to design strategies that will address the gap in access and utilization of evidence-based interventions.
We live at a time of renewed interest in the psychosocial aspects of the rapidly advancing knowledge regarding the biology of cancer and cancer treatments. “Precision” and “personalized” medicine draws on unique genetic, biomarker, phenotypic characteristics to advance understanding of cancer risk, probabilities of recurrence, and design treatments. This brings new challenges in the psychosocial aspects of cancer for patients and clinicians. Furthermore, such advances potentially widen the disparities in cancer outcomes, through variation in access to innovations in cancer detection and treatment. The integration of insights from our field with engagement across discipline boundaries has the potential to assist in addressing this challenge.
With these objectives in mind, we have built a strong editorial team consisting of an international Editorial Board composed of >40 of the top psychosocial oncology researchers worldwide, with representation from 18 countries and a range of expertise spanning the whole of psychosocial oncology research and practice (https://journals.lww.com/jporp/pages/editorialboard.aspx). We will be calling upon these Editorial Board members as expert peer-reviewers for submitted manuscripts. We also have a team of Associate Editors who specialize in specific content areas: Bill Breitbart (USA) with expertise in palliative care; Gail Garvey (Australia) whose focus is indigenous health and global disparities in cancer; Nick Hulbert-Williams (UK) with expertise in intervention development and testing; Yosuke Uchitomi (Japan) with expertise in screening for and treating anxiety and depression; and Claire Wakefield (Australia) in pediatric, AYA, and global psycho-oncology. In addition, our expertise spans identification and treatment of psychosocial symptoms and side-effects, intervention development and testing with traditional and pragmatic designs, complementary and traditional cancer therapy use and evaluation.
We are committed to ensuring the publication of the highest-quality science in this field and encouraging early and emerging researchers to publish their work. We will also have the opportunity to promote new and emerging fields in psycho-oncology through commissioned articles. A process of robust peer review will be supported through the engagement of the community of outstanding researchers in psycho-oncology who have generously offered their assistance as editorial board members, alongside our Associate Editors.
By utilizing the extensive reach of an open access publishing model and focusing on real-world solutions to clinical problems that face cancer patients, caregivers, and survivors worldwide, the Journal of Psychosocial Oncology Research and Practice aims to contribute to the transformation of global cancer care. Our work with and through the IPOS Board and membership is key to engaging across the IPOS community and growing the psycho-oncology field globally. Being a vehicle to publish and disseminate key research outputs from IPOS initiatives will enable the journal to communicate important findings, to connect globally, to encourage and support research in emerging fields, and support the further growth of the scientific basis of psycho-oncology. We look forward to working with the IPOS board and membership as together we move this important mission ahead.
Conflicts of interest statement
The authors declare that they have no financial conflict of interest with regard to the content of this report.
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