CSC’s Distress Screening Tool Shown to Benefit Patients and Caregivers

April 22, 2020

The Cancer Support Community (CSC) recently spoke with Dr. William Dahut, Scientific Director for Clinical Research at the National Cancer Institute’s Center for Cancer Research, during our weekly radio show Frankly Speaking About Cancer.  During the discussion, Dr. Dahut said, “Even though a lot of our time is focused on this horrible pandemic, I think it’s important that your listeners understand that we are still doing everything we can to improve the outcome for cancer patients.”  We at CSC agree wholeheartedly with this statement and are likewise committed.  Our team at The Research and Training Institute (RTI) recently presented findings on the benefits of using two versions of our CancerSupportSource®(CSS®) distress screening tool—one for caregivers and one for patients—at two major conferences to further this effort.


American Psychosocial Oncology Society’s (APOS) Annual Conference


Research from the RTI was recently accepted as part of a podium presentation for a breakout session at the annual APOS conference which brings together up to 500 researchers and clinicians each year.  The theme for the 2020 conference was “Defining a New Era of Human-Centered Cancer Care” and the breakout session is entitled “Through the Caregivers’ Eyes: The Creation of Caregiver-Centric Supportive Care Interventions.”  The presentation describes CancerSupportSource-Caregiver® (CSS-CG) and its validation through the CSC affiliate network.  CSS-CG is a web-based distress screening and referral program for caregivers that is modeled after the original patient version developed by the RTI.  It was found to successfully assist with the identification of unmet needs, supporting patient and family education.  The presentation also highlighted a case example of the implementation of CSS-CG through the CSC Central Ohio affiliate, which partnered with the RTI for this project.


This research represents an initial step forward into the full implementation of a distress screening and referral program tailored to caregivers for CSC affiliates, hospital sites, and other partners, and is yet another indication of Cancer Support Community’s commitment to both the cancer patient and caregiver.  CSS-CG is also being used in a pilot study at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.  We are thrilled to be at the vanguard of caregiver research. Read more about our caregiver research here.


National Comprehensive Cancer Network Annual Conference


RTI work was accepted at the National Comprehensive Cancer Network’s 2020 Annual Conference.  The conference draws more than 1650 registrants including oncologists, nurses, pharmacists, and other healthcare professionals involved in the care of patients with cancer. A poster entitled “Results from a Pilot Study Examining the Impact of Distress Screening and Referral on Cancer Patient Cost and Health Care Utilization” was accepted for presentation and featured on NCCN’s virtual poster portal.  This research was conducted in conjunction with Orlando Health UF Health Cancer Center, and looks at whether the use of CancerSupportSource® distress screening and referral program with breast cancer patients had any effect on their 2-year cost of care and overall utilization of health care resources (including Emergency Department visits, hospital stays, physician office visits, and allied health services). 


Our research shows that patients demonstrated better health care utilization after screening with CSS.  Fewer participants visited the Emergency Department following screening, and more utilized physician office visits.  There was also a decrease in length of hospital stay and a greater likelihood of using allied health services.  This could, in turn, lead to decreased cost of care.  Financial toxicity due to cancer diagnosis and treatment has become a major barrier for patients and caregivers, which further underscores the significance of research like this which seeks to drill down further into health care costs and utilization.  It also provides continued support for the use of CancerSupportSource® to help identify areas of distress and unmet needs for those who access resources at Cancer Support Community.


Please read our poster for more information here.


Participating in conferences such as these allows the RTI to present research that can help to improve the quality of life and diminish the psychosocial burden of cancer.  Despite everything going on in the world around us, the RTI remains committed to its work in cancer related psychosocial, behavioral and survivorship research and training.