Psychosocial care for cancer survivors: A systematic literature review on the role of general practitioners

Supported by a PC4 training award, Dr. Laura Deckx and team sought to explore the general practitioners (GP’s) role in providing psychosocial care for cancer survivors through a systematic review. The majority of included studies focused on care for depression and anxiety. Cancer survivors were more likely to contact their GP about psychosocial problems than non-cancer controls. Survivors were more likely to antidepressants compared with controls, however 71% of survivors preferred depression treatment to be “talking therapy only.” GPs and patients mostly agreed that GPs are the preferred provider to manage psychosocial problems, with the major exception of survivor’s fear of recurrence. Only two interventions effectively decreased depression or anxiety; both studies were specifically designed for decreasing depression/anxiety, and consisted of a multidisciplinary team approach. The other interventions evaluated GP‐led follow‐up for cancer survivors, and the patients’ levels of anxiety, depression and distress were unaffected. Cancer survivors often prefer psychosocial care by their GP, and GPs generally consider themselves well placed to provide this care. Despite limited evidence on the effectiveness of GP-led psychosocial care, an active multidisciplinary team approach seems essential.

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