Doha, 11 January, 2021: Under the leadership of Dr. Mohamed Salem Al Hassan, Medical Director of the National Center for Cancer Care and Research (NCCCR) and Dr. Majid Al-Abdullah, Chairman of Psychiatry and Medical Director of HMC's Mental Health Service and led by Dr. Abdelhamid Afana, Clinical Psychologist and Psychotherapy Consultant and Trauma Specialist at NCCCR, the NCCCR’s Psychotherapy Unit is developing a new culturally accepted, holistic, and comprehensive psychosocial oncology model for cancer patients.
Cancer is a devastating disease causing significant psychosocial challenges among patients and their families. At several points in their treatment pathway, patients can find it hard to cope emotionally as they pass through very stressful events with significant implications on their lifestyle; interpersonal and family life; emotional and psychological profile; communication challenges; stress and adjustment; fears and other matters that affect their overall equilibrium.
Commenting on the significance of the new model, Dr. Al Hassan said: “We are pleased to adopt the comprehensive psychosocial oncology model of service delivery at NCCCR. We aim to ensure that every patient receives individualized high-quality care to help them overcome the many challenges brought on by cancer, and the new model provides services to promote the wellbeing of patients and their families. This is achieved through a multifaceted approach including a full range of comprehensive multidisciplinary psycho-oncology services to support the mental wellbeing of both the patients and their families. Thanks to the collaborative efforts with our colleagues in the Mental Health Service, this new model is another milestone to support the achievement of high-quality cancer care in Qatar as stated within the National Cancer Framework 2017 to 2022.”
“Mental health professionals working in NCCCR encounter a broad spectrum of patients and situations. This can be such a devastating disease with a very complex treatment journey. Patients and their families can be easily overwhelmed. Psychological treatment of patients with cancer allows practitioners to support both the patients and their families to help them cope with the initial diagnosis of cancer, reduce the impact of cancer related treatments, deal with changes in life circumstances and overcome any feelings of anxiety, depression, and other emotional distress. This new model will support not only people whose lives may have been affected by cancer and those diagnosed with cancer, but it will also support their family members and loved ones,” said Dr. Al Abdulla.
As part of the proposed psychosocial oncology model recommendations and in order to meet these challenges, a dedicated team with experience in the field of oncology and specialist psychology services and interventions will be formed to provide psychosocial interventions in addition to individual, group and couples therapy.
The team has already started group and art intervention programs. The goal of this group art therapy consists of using the magic of art and drawing interventions to increase the daily functional activities of both inpatients and survivors, enhancing their independence, and nurturing their self-confidence, and most importantly reducing the effects of physical and emotional distress caused by cancer and cancer treatments.
“Our team is here to help patients and their families deal with the emotional and psychological impact of cancer and its treatment. Whilst everyone may struggle at different times in their cancer care, we can address the full range and severity of psychological issues associated with cancer
throughout their treatment journey at NCCCR. Our experienced team has an excellent understanding of the specific challenges that cancers, symptoms and treatments can bring, and is skilled at exploring the unique impact that adjusting to these can have on patients and their loved ones,” Dr. Afana confirmed.
Dr. Afana further explained the new model includes mechanisms to help oncologists and medical teams manage their stress related issues. It also encompasses training and research studies in addition to preventive community education and awareness.