What is the Screening for Distress Education Program?

The screening for distress education program was created to support the implementation of screening for distress programs. This web-based education program provides an opportunity for practicing health professionals to develop knowledge to screen and respond to distress, including referral processes. It also provides an overview of supportive counseling.



Why is distress screening needed for people affected by cancer?

The burden of cancer in Canada is significant and growing.  The Canadian Cancer Society estimates 166,400 cases of new cancer and 73,800 deaths from cancer will occur in Canada in 2008. Cancer presents not only physical but also emotional, social, informational, spiritual, and practical challenges for patients and their families. While the physical symptoms of cancer are addressed with medical treatment, the psychosocial impact of the disease frequently goes unattended.

Research demonstrates that distress, which is often experienced in the form of depression or other adjustment difficulties, is a significant problem for up to half of all cancer patients (Carlson and Bultz, 2002; 2003; 2004). Distress has been identified as the 6th Vital Sign and screening for distress programs are being implemented across Canada. Screening for distress is recommended for use as an initial “red flag” indicator of psychosocial health care needs (Howell et al., 2009). Screening will ensure that the concerns of people affected by cancer are addressed in a timely manner.


This web based program is self directed and will take approximately 5-6 hours in total. The program is designed in individual units, which allow you to progress through at your own pace. When you complete the program and submit your evaluation, you will receive a certificate of completion.

What are the technical requirements?
The education program will run with most computer systems. However you will need Adobe Flash Player, which is a free download available from the Adobe Website. A high speed internet connection will also allow the program video clips to download more quickly.


Who was involved in creating the Program?
This program was developed by the Canadian Association of Psychosocial Oncology (CAPO) through the Interprofessional Psychosocial Oncology Distance Education (IPODE) Project Production of this program has been made possible with the financial support of the Public Health Agency of Canada, through the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer, Cancer Journey Action Group.

Frequently asked questions:

Are there any continuing education (CE) credits?
There are no CE credits offered at this time. However, if you complete the post-course evaluation and submit your name and address, we will email you a certificate of completion.

Is there a cost to take the program?
This education program is provided free of charge to the learner.

Who maintains the course? 
Course maintenance is provided by the Canadian Association of Psychosocial Oncology
through the Interprofessional Psychosocial Oncology Distance Education (IPODE) Project

Who can I contact if I have questions?
Natasha Boutilier, Administrative Co-ordinator IPODE Project
Tel: 902-473-6618
[email protected]