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The aim of this study was to clarify, using a nationwide survey, what is perceived as necessary knowledge and skills for psychologists involved in cancer palliative care in Japan, the expectations of medical staff members, and the degree to which these expectations are met.
We conducted a questionnaire survey of psychologists involved in cancer palliative care. A total of 419 psychologists from 403 facilities were asked to fill out the questionnaire and return it anonymously. Some 401 psychologists (89 males, 310 females, and 2 unspecified; mean age, 37.2 ± 9.5 years) responded about necessary knowledge and skills for psychologists working in cancer palliative care, the necessity for training, expectations at their current workplace, and the degree to which expectations are met.
More than 90% of participants responded that many kinds of knowledge and skills related to the field of cancer palliative care are necessary. Over 80% of participants indicated a necessity for training related to these knowledge and skills. Although more than 50% (range, 50.1–85.8%) of participants responded that such services as “cooperation with medical staff within a hospital,” “handling patients for whom psychological support would be beneficial,” and “assessment of patients' mental state” were expected at their workplace, fewer than 60% (31.4–56.9%) responded that they actually performed these roles.
Significance of Results:
Our results show that many psychologists in cancer palliative care feel unable to respond to the expectations at their current workplace and that they require more adequate knowledge and skills related to cancer palliative care to work effectively. No other nationwide surveys have generated this type of information in Japan, so we believe that the results of our study are uniquely important.
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