Pilot Study Evaluation
The pilot was evaluated by independent expert researchers, including a quantitative evaluation conducted by Dr Irene Bobovski, Research Fellow, Department of Psychiatry, Monash University; and a qualitative evaluation conducted by Associate Professor Clare O’Callaghan, Senior Research Associate, Palliative Care, Cabrini Health.
The quantitative evaluation found that a majority of participating patients experienced a clinically significant improvement to their depression, with 78.6% recording a 5-point reduction on the Patient Health Questionnaire at 12 weeks post-treatment. This translated to quality of life improvements related to relationships, self-worth, pain and emotional wellbeing.
The qualitative evaluation, which took the form of interviews with a representative selection of participants and patients, found the model to be highly effective.
“This collaborative care pilot upskilled psychologists, which ultimately helped cancer care teams to provide their patients with more holistic care,” said one participant in the pilot.
The pilot model was found to be acceptable to patients, measured through satisfaction with the therapy experience, development of a bond between patient and therapist, and the patient’s sense that their psychological care was being delivered in a professional, evidence-based way.
Participating health practitioners reported an increased understanding and empathy for cancer patients with existential and biopsychosocial issues.
“I now feel more confident in working with people affected by cancer beyond the life of this project,” one clinical participant reported.
Group supervision sessions encouraged psychologists to learn from one another and build relationships with cancer health workers. Oncologists felt they were better able to support their patients by having referral pathways to trained community psychologists. General Practitioners found that input from referring oncologists helped patients to accept prescriptions for anti-depressants when needed.
The robustness of the model was lesser for patients who needed more sessions than the program offered; were very ill and regularly altered session times; had non-cancer focused concerns; or had cancer-focussed concerns not covered by the program.