Psychological Medicine Service

Department in Depth

Supporting patients’ psychological needs

The St James’s Hospital Psycho-Oncology service has developed a model of care (see Figure 1) that provides a range of psychological interventions, which are matched to the person’s level of distress.  Interventions range from patient and family psycho-education lectures and information booklets for those with mild distress to structured psychological and psychiatric interventions for those with more severe clinical problems. 

Education and Training of Health Care Professionals

In most cases, support for those with mild distress, is mainly provided by the oncology team.  Doctors, nursing staff, social workers and other healthcare professionals are central in monitoring the patient’s psychological state, identifying psychological distress and providing emotional support to patients whose severity of symptoms does not necessitate specialist psychological advice or intervention

The St James’s Hospital psycho-oncology service provides a comprehensive 5-day education and training programme in psycho-oncology for health care professionals.  The programme offers:  an in-depth look at the psychological impact of a cancer diagnosis and its treatment on the patient and their family; an introduction to psychological interventions to manage distress and challenging situations; and an exploration of professional issues such as awareness and management of boundaries and burnout.  This empirically validated programme has been found to increase staff knowledge and confidence in the management of psycho-oncology issues.  It is run biannually and is open to all health care professionals. 


The service is based on a scientist practitioner, evidence based practice model.  We continually: empirically evaluate our work, explore scientifically the needs of our patients and their care providers, and develop and adapt psychological therapies through evaluation and / or randomised control trials.  We have strong links with both the Department of Psychiatry and the Department of Psychology, Trinity College Dublin.