Mental health and chemical dependency services at US cancer centers

Shehzad K Niazi, Aaron Spaulding, Emily Brennan, Sarah K. Meier, Juliana Crook, Lauren F. Cornell, Sikander Ailawadhi, Matthew M. Clark, Teresa Anne Rummans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: It is standard of care and an accreditation requirement to screen for and address distress and psychosocial needs in patients with cancer. This study assessed the availability of mental health (MH) and chemical dependency (CD) services at US cancer centers. Methods: The 2017-2018 American Hospital Association (AHA) survey, Area Health Resource File, and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Hospital Compare databases were used to assess availability of services and associations with hospital-level and health services area (HSA)-level characteristics. Results: Of 1,144 cancer centers surveyed, 85.4% offered MH services and 45.5% offered CD services; only 44.1% provided both. Factors associated with increased adjusted odds of offering MH services were teaching status (odds ratio [OR], 1.76; 95% CI, 1.18-2.62), being a member of a hospital system (OR, 2.00; 95% CI, 1.31-3.07), and having more beds (OR, 1.04 per 10-bed increase; 95% CI, 1.02-1.05). Higher population estimate (OR, 0.98; 95% CI, 0.97-0.99), higher percentage uninsured (OR, 0.90; 95% CI, 0.86-0.95), and higher Mental Health Professional Shortage Area level in the HSA (OR, 0.99; 95% CI, 0.98-1.00) were associated with decreased odds of offering MH services. Government-run (OR, 2.85; 95% CI, 1.30-6.22) and nonprofit centers (OR, 3.48; 95% CI, 1.78-6.79) showed increased odds of offering CD services compared with for-profit centers. Those that were members of hospital systems (OR, 1.61; 95% CI, 1.14-2.29) and had more beds (OR, 1.02; 95% CI, 1.01-1.03) also showed increased odds of offering these services. A higher percentage of uninsured patients in the HSA (OR, 0.92; 95% CI, 0.88-0.97) was associated with decreased odds of offering CD services. Conclusions: Patients' ability to pay, membership in a hospital system, and organization size may be drivers of decisions to co-locate services within cancer centers. Larger organizations may be better able to financially support offering these services despite poor reimbursement rates. Innovations in specialty payment models highlight opportunities to drive transformation in delivering MH and CD services for high-need patients with cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)829-838
Number of pages10
JournalJNCCN Journal of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology


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