Further than the individual’s thoughts and feelings, illness also disrupts relationships, social and spiritual aids, financial stability, and trust in the health care system to deliver adequate care. Psychological, social, and cultural factors merge within the patient’s developmental stage, family structure, financial security, and spirituality. As such, the ability to attend to these factors efficiently and effectively is a key component of palliative care.
Psychosocial assessments relate to setting and circumstance and extends beyond the physical to the domains of feelings, family, supports, and finances. Health professionals should explain how psychosocial inquiry will enhance care and how that information will be distributed and documented; the objective is to create a “private” window.
Several questions can be customized to setting, person, and circumstances for patients with serious illness and/or caregivers. Critical thinking, setting, triage, and attention to emotional and cognitive responses should inform in-tune clinicians as they decide which questions are important, when to abort an interview, when to move on to a different topic, when to explore further, and when to engage social work or spiritual care specialists.
Suggested topics to assess
• Coping with emotions, functional changes, symptoms etc.
• Culture influences.
• Lived experience of illness, impact on self, others, and quality of life.
• Patient’s thoughts and feelings about illness, treatment, and care.
• Social context.
• Suffering and the existential/spiritual domain.
See reference for more information
Adapted from Terry A, Groninger H, Kelemen A. The psychosocial assessment in palliative care. Palliative Care Network of Wisconsin. Fast facts and concepts #396. Internet. Accessed on April 18, 2020. Available at https://www.mypcnow.org/fast-fact/the-psychosocial-assessment-in-palliative-care/