Objective: In a prospective, randomised study, individual psychosocial support performed by: (1) specially trained oncology nurses (INS) or (2) psychologists (IPS) were compared with respect to utilisation, satisfaction and perceived benefit.
Methods: Between December 1997 and December 1999, consecutive breast cancer patients (n=120) were included at start of adjuvant therapy (chemo-, endocrine and/or loco-regional radiotherapy). Data were collected by an extended version of the 'IPS-patient satisfaction questionnaire' within 1 week after termination of the support intervention. Questionnaires were also mailed to all patients 6, 12 and 18-24 months after inclusion. Levels of distress were collected with the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS) and Impact of Event Scale (IES) questionnaires.
Results: The patients were highly satisfied with the individual psychosocial support intervention they received, irrespective of which profession provided the support. However, the patients in the INS group reported higher levels of benefit regarding disease-related problems, regardless if the patients at baseline reported low or high levels of distress.
Conclusions: Patients were highly satisfied with an individual psychosocial support intervention. In areas dealing with somatic aspects, the group intervened by nurses were more satisfied than the one by psychologists.
Practice implications: Individual psychosocial support by specially trained nurses is a realistic alternative in routine cancer care.