Background: Psycho-oncological care is nowadays an integral part of patient-oriented health care in oncology. Psycho-oncological services are considered in the formulation of guidelines and the existence of such services is a precondition for the certification of organ centres.
Methods: For a status quo analysis of psycho-oncological health-care services for breast cancer patients in inpatient and outpatient care, 101 hospitals (inpatient care) and 124 health-care professionals in outpatient psycho-oncological services were questioned by mail.
Results: Psycho-oncological care in the hospital setting is mainly carried out by psychologists and physicians. 2-100% (median: 32.5%) of breast cancer patients receive psycho-oncological treatment. The proportion of psycho-oncological treatment performed by psychologists is higher in bigger hospitals and in hospitals which are part of a breast centre. In outpatient care, psycho-oncological treatment is mainly carried out by psychologists. Most of the interventions are individual therapy sessions (group therapy: median 20%). Most of the participants in the outpatient sector are psychodynamic (43%) or behavioural (23%) therapists, 40% report other therapeutic backgrounds.
Conclusion: Both the inpatient and the outpatient sectors show a high heterogeneity in psycho-oncological care. The results for the inpatient setting indicate increasing professionalisation and orientation towards certification criteria and treatment guidelines. The heterogeneity in outpatient psycho-oncological care can be interpreted as desirable diversity which allows for the consideration of the varying needs of patients with different diagnoses, disease stages, and treatments.
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