Cancer nutrition rehabilitation program: the role of social work
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The Cancer Nutrition Rehabilitation (cnr) program at the McGill University Health Centre is an interdisciplinary 8-week treatment program offering patients information, education, treatment, and support in areas such as diet, exercise, and rehabilitation, plus resources to address their psychosocial needs. The program social worker helps the patient and the patient's family to cope with the illness, to problem-solve, and to obtain needed resources. Here, we present a description of these patients-demographics, medical diagnoses, and psychosocial needs as assessed by the Person-in-Environment standardized instrument-derived from the social-work files of the 75 patients referred to social work in the period February 2007-December 2008. The reason most frequently reported for referral to social work was assistance with psychosocial problems. For 41.3% of the sample, these problems were assessed as high severity, and almost half the patients in the sample (47.8%) were assessed as having inadequate coping ability. Patient age was the most important demographic variable. Although seniors (63-94 years of age) were the least likely to have high-severity psychosocial problems, they were the most likely to have inadequate coping ability. That finding suggests that the cnr social worker, in addition to dealing with the instrumental, practical needs of cancer patients, is in a unique position to respond to their emotional difficulties in coping with their illness, and that health care professionals need to pay particular attention to the coping ability of elderly patients.
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