Fox Chase Researcher Collaborates on Clinical Practice Statement Addressing Social Needs in Gynecologic Oncology

PHILADELPHIA (September 15, 2020)—A researcher at Fox Chase Cancer Center recently published a paper addressing the practice of including social needs in gynecologic oncology.

Social needs encompass a variety of factors, including financial distress, psychological and spiritual concerns, food, job security, housing, and much more. According to the authors, limited data exist for identifying and quantifying these unmet social needs as well as validating interventions to address them.

“There’s a lot of evidence showing that people’s social needs don’t just impact people’s quality of life, but they actually impact their outcomes,” said Christina S. Chu, MD, one of the paper’s authors and a professor in the Department of Surgical Oncology at Fox Chase. “So what we’re trying to do with this statement is provide ways and encourage people to actually address and provide different tools for assessing patients’ social needs.”

Chu worked on the paper with researchers from several other hospitals and cancer centers. The paper outlines currently available research and methods for clinicians in dealing with patients’ social needs.

It includes topics dealing with financial toxicity, psychological needs, employment and job security, caregiver burdens, communication, spiritual needs, and transportation difficulties. Additionally, the paper summarizes the validated and publicly available tools to help identify social needs that could impact recommended care.

“It’s not just nice to take care of these needs, it’s instrumental in rendering people the best care possible and making the care accessible to them. It doesn’t help if you have a great drug but the patient can’t pay for it, or if you have these great therapies but patients can’t make it into the hospital to see you,” she said.

Chu hopes the paper not only prompts medical professionals to screen for these needs but also encourages patients to speak with their providers about any of the social concerns that they believe may impede their care.

“We as caregivers should be cognizant that if we want to really take care of our patient we can’t just limit ourselves to questions like, ‘Is this chemotherapy effective?’ We really have to start concerning ourselves with these other aspects that can markedly affect someone’s care and outcome and sometimes their survival,” said Chu.

According to the authors, further investigation and intervention studies are needed in the gynecologic oncology patient population to better evaluate the magnitude of these needs and what the impact of interventions to address these needs are.

The paper, “Social Needs in Gynecologic Oncology: A Society of Gynecologic Oncology (SGO) Clinical Practice Statement,” was published in the journal Gynecologic Oncology.

Fox Chase Cancer Center (Fox Chase), which includes the Institute for Cancer Research and the American Oncologic Hospital and is a part of Temple Health, is one of the leading comprehensive cancer centers in the United States. Founded in 1904 in Philadelphia as one of the nation’s first cancer hospitals, Fox Chase was also among the first institutions to be designated a National Cancer Institute Comprehensive Cancer Center in 1974. Fox Chase is also one of just 10 members of the Alliance of Dedicated Cancer Centers. Fox Chase researchers have won the highest awards in their fields, including two Nobel Prizes. Fox Chase physicians are also routinely recognized in national rankings, and the Center’s nursing program has received the Magnet recognition for excellence five consecutive times. Today, Fox Chase conducts a broad array of nationally competitive basic, translational, and clinical research, with special programs in cancer prevention, detection, survivorship, and community outreach. It is the policy of Fox Chase Cancer Center that there shall be no exclusion from, or participation in, and no one denied the benefits of, the delivery of quality medical care on the basis of race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity/expression, disability, age, ancestry, color, national origin, physical ability, level of education, or source of payment.

For more information, call 888-369-2427