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Module Specifications

Archived Version 2011 - 2012

Module Title Theories & Models in Psycho-oncology
Module Code NS538
School School of Nursing and Human Sciences

Online Module Resources

NFQ level 9 Credit Rating 10
Pre-requisite None
Co-requisite None
Compatibles None
Incompatibles None

This module will enable students to evaluate rationale for and apply the theoretical principles of psychosocial oncology to the psychological and supportive care for the person with cancer and their family/carer at any stage of the cancer trajectory. Students will critically analyse and interact with key aspects of psycho-oncology service delivery, including using assessment skills and knowledge to identify patients who require referral to psychometric and psychiatric assessment and other referral pathways, such as psychodynamic and cognitive behavioural interventions and mind-body complementary therapies as part of an integrated psycho-oncology multidisciplinary care framework.

Learning Outcomes

1. Critique the theories & models of care relevant to comprehensive and holistic psychosocial oncology services for patients with cancer and their carers and close others.
2. Analyse the rationale for pain as the fifth and distress as the sixth vital sign in the care of the person with cancer.
3. Comprehensively assess and manage distress and cancer pain at any stage of the cancer trajectory and demonstrate knowledge, skills and judgement to be able to appropriately refer the patient to members of the multidisciplinary team as required.
4. Appraise the experience of the illness of cancer on all domains and aspects of quality of life and survivorship for the patient and their close social network.
5. Explain stress management & relaxation interventions for patient coping, self advocacy health outcomes and family dynamics.
6. Analyse key aspects of psycho-oncology service delivery which aim to maximise patient health outcomes and provide supportive care.

Workload Full-time hours per semester
Type Hours Description
Lecture38based on indicative content, learning activities, tutorials, group work and discussions
Independent Study172self directed study based on additional reading list
Clinical placement40reflective learning in practice
Total Workload: 250

All module information is indicative and subject to change. For further information,students are advised to refer to the University's Marks and Standards and Programme Specific Regulations at: http://www.dcu.ie/registry/examinations/index.shtml

Indicative Content and Learning Activities

Theories and models in psycho-oncology
Basic principles of Systems Theory, The Gate Control Theory of pain and the Biopsychosocial model applied to multidisciplinary team care for the person with cancer; application to mediating variables, interactive care pathways and patient outcomes in psychosocial care of the person with cancer and his or her family.

Assessment of distress and pain
Theories and measurement of psychosocial distress and pain in the person with cancer and their prevention, treatment and management, recognising the importance of context for understanding the psychological, emotional and spiritual suffering of the person with cancer and the potential impact for the family; implications of the interactive experience of the illness of cancer, cancer pain and cancer treatments on: quality of life; cognitive function societal and family attitudes; stigma, isolation, loss, bodily image, intimacy and sexuality.

Referral and Psycho-oncology Service Development
Psycho-oncology service development, including distress and pain assessment and referral and multidisciplinary service provision issues, in line with the objectives of international best practice, contextualizing international best practice (NCCN and NICE) guidelines and Cancer services Guidance within the Irish Healthcare system, in line with the National Cancer Strategy and with current sociopolitical issues in cancer care. The provision of integrated care throughout the cancer trajectory. How specialist roles of the CNS, ANP, and of different members of MDT maximise quality care in psycho-oncology service development and provision.

Cancer and survivorship across the lifespan
Human development across the lifespan and individual differences/issues relevant to the person and their experience of cancer across the disease and illness trajectory including the impact of cancer on people with learning and communication difficulties and related problems Principles and issues of cancer survivorship; meeting short, medium and long term psychosocial service needs of cancer survivors, their partners and families as cancer becomes increasingly a chronic illness.

Stress and psychoneuroimmunology
Models and dynamics of stress (especially the stress and relaxation responses) and coping and their relevance and application to emotions and coping mechanisms, both adaptive and maladaptive in the context of cancer -including threat and harm appraisal, developing problem solving skills, adjustment, self efficacy, optimal social support, optimizing resources; the role of resilience and optimism in improving patient health outcomes.

Assessment Breakdown
Continuous Assessment100% Examination Weight0%
Course Work Breakdown
TypeDescription% of totalAssessment Date
Reassessment Requirement
Resit arrangements are explained by the following categories;
1 = A resit is available for all components of the module
2 = No resit is available for 100% continuous assessment module
3 = No resit is available for the continuous assessment component
Indicative Reading List

  • Brennan, J in collaboration with Clare Moynihan: 2004, Cancer in Context: A Practical Guide for Supportive Care, Oxford University Press, 0198515251
  • Holland,j, Greenberg, DB, Hughes, M. et al: 2006, Quick Reference for Oncology Clinicians: The Psychiatric and Psychological Dimensions of Cancer Symptom Management, American Psychosocial Oncology Society, Charlottesville VA USA, 0978531906
  • Holland JC ed: 1998, Psycho-Oncology, (new edition due 2010), Oxford University Press, New York, 0195106148
  • Michael Feuerstein, editor: 2007, Handbook of cancer survivorship, Springer, New York, NY, 978-0-387-34561-1
  • Zighelboim J: 2007, To Health! The New Humanistic Oncology, www.booksurge.com, USA, 9781419657405
Other Resources

205, NCCN Practice Guidelines in Oncology, 0, 206, Relevant NICE Guidelines and completed Cancer Serv, 0, 207, NCI, IASP, NCR, IPOS, BPOS websites, 0, 208, http://www.ipos-society.org/professionals/meetings, 0,
Programme or List of Programmes
GPOYGraduate Diploma in Psycho-Oncology