Aim: To identify and prioritize the key research questions in psycho-oncology in order to guide the development of large multicenter clinically relevant studies.
Methods: All members of the Psycho-Oncology Co-operative Research Group (n = 295) were invited to participate in an online survey and 180 responded (response rate = 61%). Participants rated eight priority research areas identified from a previous focus group study on a five-point scale, and ranked their top four priority areas. Within the four ranked research areas, participants selected the three most important specific research questions.
Results: The highest rated research priority areas were distress identification (23.3%), survivorship (22.7%), and distress management (15.3%), followed by issues relating to health services (9.7%) and carers (8.0%). Interventions were commonly nominated among the most important research questions within each priority area. The single most important research question identified by 44% of the sample was to “Determine the most acceptable, reliable and valid screening tool to be administered routinely at diagnosis and at other key transition points to identify distress and psychosocial needs”.
Conclusion: This is the first Australian study to explore research priorities in psycho-oncology, and the first international study to explore these issues in depth. To ensure that the research effort is strategic, clinically relevant and cost-effective, clear priorities need to be established. The results of this survey will enable limited resources to focus on key research questions of direct clinical benefit.