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Psychosocial Care of Cancer Patients: A Health Professional's Guide to What to Say and Do

The diagnosis of cancer brings an immediate threat of death, profound grief at illness, the challenge of coping with this predicament and eventual transition to new experiences. For many, the related treatment program is arduous. Often unstated assumptions about life can be shattered. Any consequent distress reverberates among family and friends. Cancer is a key turning point in life’s narrative, thus presenting a special opportunity for the psycho-oncologist to intervene.

This book extends psychosocial care guidelines by providing numerous practical strategies for assessing and managing common concerns. Health professionals’ existing skills will be identified and extended, new skills will be developed and useful resources shared. Key resources for health professionals are identified for each topic covered. Clinical case examples throughout the book highlight learning objectives. Handouts, in the form of Resource sheets, can be quickly photocopied and support the practical application of the content for daily practice. 

The book focuses on the psychosocial care of adults, however, some content will be appropriate to the care of parents, carers and loved ones of paediatric cancer patients and survivors. Concerns that arise most frequently in clinical practice are addressed. Detailed information on less common concerns or interventions that tend to be delivered by specialist services (such as the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder or sexual dysfunctions) are beyond the scope of this book, although suggestions for further reading materials are provided. 

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Contents include

  • A review of the psychosocial impact of cancer on patients and loved ones
  • The unique demands of working with those affected by cancer both within cancer services and other clinical care settings
  • Communication challenges and skills
  • Key assessment skills critical to the formulation of an intervention
  • Common concerns within the framework of encouraging adaptive adjustment
  • Managing depression 
  • Coping with stress and anxiety
  • Helping patients to address changes in sexuality and body image
  • Supporting families and carers 
  • Dealing with grief, end of life and bereavement 
  • A review of skills required for running effective support group programs

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Author / Editor Biographies

Clinical Psychologist
Dr Katharine Hodgkinson is a Clinical Psychologist with over 18 years’ experience in client care, research and education. Katharine currently leads a team of Clinical and Consulting Psychologists at HeadwayHealth providing a range of psychological interventions to support to those affected by a cancer and other heath and emotional concerns. Katharine has published numerous research papers and several book chapters in cancer care, and co-edited the book “Psychosocial Care of Cancer Patients. A Health Professional’s Guide to What to Say and Do” (Hodgkinson K and Gilchrist J, Ausmed Publi...
Jemma Gilchrist is a senior clinical psychologist with clinical experience in psychooncology. Since 1999 she has worked in two separate tertiary oncology services providing psychosocial care to adults with a wide range of cancer diagnoses as well as their families and carers. Jemma has experience in educating other health professionals on the role of psychosocial support and interventions in the oncology setting. In addition she is an honorary associate of the University of Sydney and provides clinical supervision to clinical psychology interns at master's level. She completed her doctorate in...


Established in 1987, Ausmed Publications is the print publishing arm of Ausmed Education, a company is dedicated to producing high quality healthcare education in the form of: Seminars and Conferences, Online Resources, Video Learning Activities and Textbooks.

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