Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Medical social work, Cancer-Patient-Mental health services, Cancer-Patients-Services for, Cancer-Patients-Counseling of, Patient education, Psychosocial services, Social work role, Discrepancies, Cancer-Economic aspects


This qualitative study explored social workers' perceptions of the gaps between the need for and the provision of psychosocial services among cancer patients in a multidisciplinary treatment setting. The participants in the study were social workers from various medical settings in the San Francisco Bay Area. 12 participants, one male and 11 females practicing in the field of medical/oncology social work for an average of nine years, were interviewed. Findings indicated that the most salient gaps are between (a) the number of medical social workers in any given setting and the high volume of cancer patients in need of psychosocial services, (b) the cost of cancer treatment and patients' ability to meet these costs, (c) the roles and duties of social workers and the perception of these roles and duties by their colleagues, and; (d) the complexity of information that patients' must "process" and their ability to do so under the stress of diagnosis. Suggestions for bridging these gaps are included in this paper and relate to restructuring the social work role in a hospital setting, recruiting and training oncology social workers, and providing patients with both titrated diagnostic and prognostic information as well as tools to improve their retention of such knowledge in the face of distress.




iii, 74 p. Thesis (M.S.W.)--Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2009. Includes bibliographical references (p. 66-68)