The Ontario psychosocial oncology framework: a quality improvement tool


Correspondence to: Psychiatrist, Psychosocial Oncology and Palliative Care, Princess Margaret Hospital, University Health Network -16 - 749 610 University Avenue, Toronto, ON, M5G 2M9. E-mail:



To overview the newly developed Psychosocial Health Care for Cancer Patients and Their Families: A Framework to Guide Practice in Ontario and Guideline Recommendations in the context of Canadian psychosocial oncology care and propose strategies for guideline uptake and implementation.


Recommendations from the 2008 Institute of Medicine standard Cancer Care for the Whole Patient: Meeting Psychosocial Health Needs were adapted into the Ontario Psychosocial Oncology (PSO) Framework. Existing practice guidelines developed by the Canadian Partnership against Cancer and Cancer Care Ontario and standards developed by the Canadian Association of Psychosocial Oncology are supporting resources for adopting a quality improvement (QI) approach to the implementation of the framework in Ontario.


The developed PSO Framework, including 31 specific actionable recommendations, is intended to improve the quality of comprehensive cancer care at both the provider and system levels. Important QI change management processes are described as Educate – raising awareness among medical teams of the significance of psychosocial needs of patients, Evidence – developing a research evidence base for patient care benefits from psychosocial interventions, and Electronics – using technology to collect patient reported outcomes of both physical and emotional symptoms.


The Ontario PSO Framework is unique and valuable in providing actionable recommendations that can be implemented through QI processes. Overall, the result will be improved psychosocial health care for the cancer population. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.