To reduce cancer care disparities, this study aimed to clarify the difficulties in cancer care for people with mental disorders as perceived by cancer care providers.
Cancer care providers at 17 designated cancer hospitals in Japan were surveyed using mail questionnaires. Respondents were asked to rate 29 items related to difficulties or insufficiencies in cancer care for patients with mental disorders on a five-point Likert scale. We analyzed the proportion of respondents who answered “difficult/insufficient” in each item. We also calculated the proportions of responders stratified according to the presence of psychiatric support systems within their hospitals.
A total of 388 (58.4%) cancer care providers responded. Among the issues related to “difficulties in diagnosing and treating cancer,” support for decision-making, assessment of treatment adherence, and assessment of physical symptoms were perceived as most difficult (73.5%–81.5% of respondents). Among the issues related to ‘difficulties or insufficiencies in collaboration among multidisciplinary health care providers,’ the issue of advance consultation and sharing information with the patient’s primary psychiatric care provider was perceived as most difficult (52.2%). Among the issues related to “insufficiencies of in-hospital and community medical systems,” education to provide reasonable accommodation was perceived as most insufficient (47.4%). The perceived difficulties of over half of the issues varied significantly between hospitals depending on the level of psychiatric support systems.
This study clarified the difficulties of cancer care in patients with mental disorders as perceived by cancer care providers. Some issues may be resolved by psychiatric liaison teams.