Routine psychosocial distress screening in radiotherapy: Implementation and evaluation of a computerised procedure

A. Dinkel, P. Berg, C. Pirker, H. Geinitz, S. Sehlen, M. Emrich, B. Marten-Mittag, G. Henrich, K. Book, P. Herschbach

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Background:To implement distress screening in routine radiotherapy practice and to compare computerised and paper-and-pencil screening in terms of acceptability and utility.Methods:We used the Stress Index RadioOncology (SIRO) for screening. In phase 1, 177 patients answered both a computerised and a paper version, and in phase 2, 273 patients filled out either the computerised or the paper assessment. Physicians received immediate feedback of the psycho-oncological results. Patients, nurses/radiographers (n27) and physicians (n15) evaluated the screening procedure.Results:The agreement between the computerised and the paper assessment was high (intra-class correlation0.92). Patients satisfaction did not differ between the two administration modes. Nurses/radiographers rated the computerised assessment less time consuming (3.7 vs 18.5%), although the objective data did not reveal a difference in time demand. Physicians valued the psycho-oncological results as interesting and informative (46.7%). Patients and staff agreed that the distress screening did not lead to an increase in the discussion of psychosocial issues in clinician-patient encounters.Conclusion:The implementation of a distress screening was feasible and highly accepted, regardless of the administration mode. Communication trainings should be offered in order to increase the discussion of psychosocial topics in clinician-patient encounters.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1489-1495
Number of pages7
JournalBritish Journal of Cancer
Issue number10
StatePublished - 9 Nov 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • computerised assessment
  • distress screening
  • psycho-oncology
  • psychosocial distress
  • radiotherapy


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