Competencies of the psycho-oncologist
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The primary purpose of this study was to develop a multidimensional model of the core competencies required of psychologists in psycho-oncology settings. An overall sample of 61 psychologists with at least two years of full-time practice in psychooncology participated in the three phases of this study. All were doctoral level practitioners currently in positions in which at least one quarter of their current work was clinically oriented. The study employed Trochim's concept mapping methodology, a multivariate model building strategy based on multidimensional scaling and cluster analysis. The three phases of the study were: (1) Brainstorming specific competencies ( n = 12); (2) A free sort of the competencies ( n = 9); (3) Rating the competencies on a scale of importance (1=relatively unimportant; 5=most important; n = 41). A seven cluster solution emerged as the best representation of the data: (1) Medical Knowledge, (2) Management Skills, (3) Assessment Skills, (4) Core Skills for Psycho-Oncologist (5) Consultation/Liaison, (6) Psychosocial Knowledge, and (7) Specific Therapeutic Interventions. The seven cluster competency model identified in the present study represents the first empirically based description of the competencies needed for effective functioning by psychologists in the cancer treatment setting. Further research is needed to examine the validity of the model, and to extend it to other settings and professional specialties in psycho-oncology.