Oncology social work intervention index (OSWii): An instrument to measure oncology social work interventions to advance research

Julianne S Oktay, Elizabeth A Rohan, Karen Burruss, Christine Callahan, Tara J Schapmire, Brad Zebrack
Journal of Psychosocial Oncology 2020 December 17, : 1-12

BACKGROUND/PURPOSE: There is much interest in screening for and treating psychosocial distress in cancer patients; however, little is known about if and how psychosocial services are provided for patients demonstrating significant levels of distress. Oncology social workers (OSWs) are the primary providers of psychosocial care for cancer patients and their families, yet there is no widely-used and empirically-validated instrument that captures the range of interventions provided by OSWs. The purpose of this paper is to describe the development of the Oncology Social Work Intervention Index (OSWii), designed to measure interventions provided by OSWs, and the results of testing the instrument.

METHODS: We conducted a content analysis of data collected by the Association of Oncology Social Work's Project to Assure Quality Cancer Care (APAQCC). We analyzed 3,194 responses from an open-ended question that described social work interventions following a distress screen. Five investigators coded the data in an iterative process to enhance instrument validity. The resulting instrument measuring OSWii was piloted with 38 oncology social workers across 156 individual cases.

RESULTS: OSWs who piloted the OSWii spent a majority of time (72%) engaging in clinical interventions. The user assessment revealed that data entry was rapid, the instrument was easy to use, and the content was relevant to the cancer treatment setting.

CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS: Using a standardized instrument that reflects OSWs' clinical interventions is critical for researchers to examine the impact of psychosocial interventions on patient outcomes. This index may also advance the translation of scientific findings into patient-centered psychosocial cancer care. This pilot test suggests that the OSWii is both scalable and useful.

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