The case for investing in better integrated mental health provision and training in cancer care is compelling. Mental health co-morbidity in cancer and end of life care is very common, poorly recognized, and leads to distress and loss of functioning. The recent SMaRT oncology trials, (Walker et al., 2014) have demonstrated that up to 73% of cancer patients with depression receive no evidence-based treatment for their depression. Standardized mortality ratio (SMR) for completed suicide in the cancer patient is four to seven times that of the matched population, (Robinson et al., 2009; Robson et al ., 2010). The increased awareness of co-morbid mental health conditions have impacted upon and influenced the cancer world. Yet, despite the plethora of research and policy advocating for better mental health provision for cancer patients, there is still a lack of recognition of the importance of assessing and managing co-morbid mental health in cancer patients.
The authors designed a one-day simulation based training programme using trained actors portraying cancer journeys, from diagnosis to end of life, with a number of different and relevant mental health co-morbidities. Inter-professional participants (n = 75) filled questionnaires both before and after the intervention (the simulation programme). The questionnaires consisted of multiple choice questions assessing knowledge of mental health co-morbidity in the cancer patient, and confidence (self- rated 1-5 Likert scales).
Statistical t test analysis of pre v post intervention scores (n = 75) revealed highly statistically significant imrpovements to participants’ clinical knowledge (p < 0.0001) and confidence (p < 0.0001) as a result of the simulation intervention.
This study demonstrates that an innovative simulation programme has been evaluated as highly effective in improving knowledge and confidence of inter-professional learners at managing mental health co-morbidity in cancer patients. More research in this educational modality is welcomed in training clinicians.
Clinical trial identification
Legal entity responsible for the study
Health Education England.
All authors have declared no conflicts of interest.