US cancer centers fall short on providing these supportive services, study finds

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Many U.S. cancer centers don't offer chemical dependency services for patients with substance use disorders, according to research published in the Journal of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network's July issue. 

Using information from an American Hospital Association survey and CMS' Hospital Compare database, researchers from Rochester, Minn.-based Mayo Clinic evaluated the psychosocial support services offered across 1,144 U.S. cancer centers.

While about 85 percent of cancer centers offered mental health services, less than half (45.5 percent) offered chemical dependency services. About 44 percent offered both, findings showed. 

"Cancer patients commonly experience mental health and chemical dependency issues," said Shehzad Niazi, MD, psychiatrist at the Mayo Clinic in Florida. "If clinicians and patients do not identify and treat these conditions, they can lead to poorer quality-of-life, increasing complications, additional caregiver burden, and even reduced survival. The resulting increase in resource utilization can also lead to increased out-of-pocket expenses and costs to payers." 

Centers that were members of a hospital system, had more beds, or were of teaching status were more likely to offer mental health services. Those in diverse regions were less likely to offer psychosocial services, findings showed. 

To view the full report, click here.

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