Psychosocial care in cancer: an overview of psychosocial programmes and national cancer plans of countries within the International Federation of Psycho-Oncology Societies


  • Maggie Watson is President of the International Psycho-Oncology Society (IPOS).

  • Luigi Grassi is Chair of the IPOS Federation of Psycho-Oncology Societies.

Section of Psychiatry, Department of Biomedical and Specialty Surgical Sciences, University of Ferrara, Ferrara, Italy. E-mail:


We report data from representatives of national professional psycho-oncology societies on the integration of psychosocial care into national cancer programmes or cancer plans. To date information on how, or whether, psychosocial care has been recognized and integrated into comprehensive cancer care internationally has been extremely limited. The value of the current survey, whilst not comprehensive, lies with the fact that it is the first to report on the current status of psychosocial care for cancer patients and their families from a global perspective.

Representatives of 29 countries that are members of the Federation of National Psycho-Oncology Societies, coordinated under the aegis of the International Psycho-Oncology Society (IPOS), participated in a survey aimed at clarifying access to psychosocial care. Results indicate that while psychosocial oncology has grown over the last decade, it is either not established or not completely established, or not an integral part of care in some countries, especially developing countries, where basic care is sometimes not provided to cancer patients.

Future targets need to focus on the integration of psychosocial oncology programmes into comprehensive cancer care and their coordination within multidisciplinary teams. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.