Oncologist Attitude Inventory (OAI): Developing a measure to assess psychological referrals of oncologists

Barbara Greenspan (2007)

The study presents two components: (a) a proposed future investigation and (b) expert consultant feedback on an instrument for the proposed investigation. The Oncologist Attitude Inventory (OAI; Greenspan, 2007), developed by the author, was evaluated by 10 oncologists who served as expert consultants. The expert consultants completed two feedback forms: The Expert Oncologist Relevancy Questionnaire and the Expert Oncologist Feedback Questionnaire. These evaluation forms consisted of qualitative and quantitative questions. The psychological needs of cancer patients and their families are currently underserved (Suinn, 1999). On the basis of the literature in psycho-oncology, the OAI addressed two main concerns: (a) What are oncologists' attitudes toward psychological treatment of cancer patients? and (b) How and when do oncologists make a referral to psycho-oncological services for their cancer patients? Oncologists' rate and type of psychological referrals were theoretically related to three factors: (a) oncologists' level of knowledge/familiarity with psycho-oncology, (b) oncologists' collaborative relationships with psychologists, and (c) oncologists' attitudes toward psycho-oncological services. Expert consultants generally agreed that the OAI is a relevant measurement tool for obtaining information about oncologists' attitudes toward psycho-oncology; that the three factors are relevant to assessing barriers to oncologists' collaboration with psychology professionals; and the proposed investigation is relevant to clinical oncology. Trends in Likert ratings indicated that experts believed that some specific issues, such as theoretical paradigms, were relevant to understanding oncologists' referral rates. However, some OAI items received lower Likert ratings, such as, level of knowledge about psychological practice (e.g., use of the DSM IV-TR). Findings on individual items and their related factors are discussed. Suggested changes in the OAI include reducing the number of items, using only factors with higher relevancy ratings, adding items on patient diversity characteristics, administering the OAI in small modular units, and collecting data through an institution. Implications also include investigating the complexities of oncologists' referral practices. The future investigation's proposal included participant recruitment procedures and data analyses methods. Generally, the experts evaluated the rationale and research design positively, without providing many specific recommendations.