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Role of clinical psychology in UK hospices


Objective The National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) (2004) guidance recommends a tiered approach to psychological care within cancer care. This includes the provision of Clinical Psychologists to support other professionals to deliver high-quality psychological care at levels 1 and 2 and to provide direct input to patients experiencing high levels of distress at level 4. However, little is known about the role of Clinical Psychology within UK Hospices currently. A survey of Clinical Psychologists working in this area was undertaken to address this gap in knowledge.

Methods We conducted an anonymous online survey of Clinical Psychologists working in Hospice organisations across the UK. Recruitment was completed via professional networking groups, social media and by contacting UK Hospice organisations. The survey included quantitative and qualitative items about professionals’ experience, how their input is organised, their roles and activities and their views on the valuable and challenging aspects of working in this setting.

Results Eighteen Clinical Psychologists responded and there was considerable variance in how their roles were organised. The tasks undertaken by most respondents were direct work with and consultation for hospice patients, and teaching and training staff. However, the findings demonstrated that Clinical Psychologists can undertake a wide range of tasks and draw on a range of therapeutic approaches including Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and Compassion Focused Therapy, in their hospice work.

Conclusion Our results provide an overview of the role of Clinical Psychology in UK Hospices and demonstrate the contribution that Psychologists can make to this field.

  • clinical psychology
  • psychological support
  • hospice Care
  • cancer

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