City of Hope helps build supportive care programs around the world

April 20, 2015 | by City of Hope

Cancer patients need, and deserve, more than medical care. They and their families need high-quality supportive care – that is, care that addresses their physical, emotional and spiritual well-being. Health care professionals increasingly understand this, but starting such programs from scratch isn't easy. That’s where City of Hope comes in.

supportive care To provide truly superb supportive care, caregivers must address all the physical, mental and spiritual pieces of a patient's life. Already experts in this type of supportive care, City of Hope caregivers are now training others around the world how to create their own programs.

An international pioneer in integrated care,  the Department of Supportive Care Medicine at City of Hope provides a multidisciplinary team of doctors, nurses and numerous other caregivers who work together to assess what cancer patients and their families need, and then fulfill those needs. Now, the department is teaching other hospitals and caregivers how to do the same.

In 2012 and 2013, the National Cancer Institute awarded two five-year grants – of $1.5 million and $1.6 million – to City of Hope’s Sheri & Les Biller Patient and Family Resource Center to, essentially, help change the world of supportive care. The first grant was intended to fund the training of cancer health care and administrative professionals in how to build and enhance supportive care programs. The second grant was meant to train the same population of professionals in how to implement comprehensive biopsychosocial screening programs.

These training programs are now well underway.

City of Hope is now teaching doctors, nurses, business administrators, psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers how to implement these much-needed strategies and methods, and, in doing so, empowering participants to start supportive care programs and screening programs in their own institutions.

The supportive care training program has so far educated 252 health care professionals across 62 locations, including 30 states and two other countries (Australia and Italy). Almost all participants have reported that the training was timely and would influence their practice (98 percent), and that it would assist them in improving patient care (97 percent). Six months after the workshop, participants reported a significant increase in the number of business plans developed and supportive care staff retained.

The training in biopsychosocial screening has so far educated 88 participants across 33 settings (including Brazil and China). Participant satisfaction levels were very high, with 99 percent of trainees highly satisfied with the workshop; 91 percent of trainees rated the content as applicable for their home settings.

During the follow-up conference calls that are part of the program, trainees have reported an increase in patient screening, the creation of new screening programs and plans to expand existing screening programs. In short, the training works.

Change that works

But the training is about more than new techniques – it’s also about a mind-shift in approach, and engagement at all levels of the trainees' home institutions.

“We’ve found that participants have not only learned techniques and methods, but have gone back to key stakeholders at their home institutions to get buy-in for these programs,” said Karen Clark, M.S., program manager for the Department of Supportive Care Medicine and co-investigator for both grants. “When there is support from leadership, the program is strengthened and the culture of the institution can truly change.”

As part of the training curriculum, participants form networks and support each other, participating in online discussion boards, as well as attending monthly conference calls with faculty members during the program and for a year afterward.

“Our trainees share their lessons learned with each other, for the benefit of all those involved,” Clark added. “We are building a model that is already being used by many.”

The supportive care program and biopsychosocial screening programs will continue their scheduled training sessions for the next two and three years, respectively.

In addition to Clark, program leaders include City of Hope’s Matthew J. Loscalzo, L.C.S.W., Liliane Elkins Endowed Professor in Supportive Care Programs, administrative director of the Sheri & Les Biller Patient and Family Resource Center and the project’s principal investigator, Marcia Grant, R.N., D.N.Sc., Paul Jacobsen, Ph.D., of the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute, and William Redd, Ph.D., of Mount Sinai School of Medicine.


Research reported in this publication was supported by the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health under grant numbers R25CA174444 and R25CA160049. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.


Learn more about becoming a patient or getting a second opinion by visiting our website or by calling 800-826-HOPE (4673). You may also request a new patient appointment online. City of Hope staff will explain what's required for a consult at City of Hope and help you determine, before you come in, whether or not your insurance will pay for the appointment.

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