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Collaborative Care and Community Engagement Program

Through clinical innovation, research, education, and advocacy, we aim to prevent premature cancer mortality and improve the quality of life of individuals affected by mental illness and cancer.
Dr. Kelly Irwin and patient.
Dr. Kelly Irwin and patient.
Dr. Kelly Irwin and patient.

Explore the Collaborative Care and Community Engagement Program

Addressing an Unmet Need

Individuals with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder die nearly 30 years earlier than the general population, and cancer is the 2nd leading cause of death among this group. People with serious mental illness are more than twice as likely to die from cancer, less likely to receive timely, high quality cancer care, and more likely to be excluded from clinical trials. Access to early, integrated psychiatric care may improve cancer treatment for patients with mental illness.

Our Mission

Directed by Kelly E. Irwin, MD, MPH, the mission of the Collaborative Care and Community Engagement Program is to promote equity in cancer care for patients affected by mental illness, and to support their families and caregivers. Through clinical innovation, research, education, and advocacy, the Program aims to prevent premature cancer mortality and improve the quality of life of individuals affected by mental illness and cancer.

A New Care Model for Patients with Cancer and Severe Mental Illness

In 2016, the Collaborative Care and Community Engagement Program conducted the first-of-its-kind pilot study of a person-centered, team-based approach to cancer care for patients with schizophrenia and cancer. The approach was informed by the collaborative care model and personalized to address the specific challenge of cancer and mental illness:

  • Person-centered care: Identifying goals and providing continuity across settings
  • Screening: Identifying patients at cancer diagnosis, maintaining population-based registry
  • Co-management: Partnering with the oncologist to adapt the cancer treatment plan
  • Interdisciplinary team: Psychiatry, Oncology, Social Work, Community-Based Clinicians
  • Collaboration across systems: Bridging oncology and community mental health

A team-based approach to care, timely access to mental health services, and strong communication with patients and caregivers are essential to helping these men and women get the treatment that they need and deserve.

Dissemination Strategies

View our Dissemination Strategies document.

Stakeholder Needs Assessment

View the needs assessment of our stakeholder groups.

Research

Clinical Trials:

BRIDGE: Proactive Psychiatry Consultation and Case Management for Patients With Cancer

Publications:

Unlearning Our Helplessness — Coexisting Serious Mental and Medical Illness
N Engl J Med. 2016 Oct 27;375(17):1690-1694.

A 63-Year-Old Woman with Bipolar Disorder, Cancer, and Worsening Depression
N Engl J Med. 2016 Sep 29;375(13):1270-81. doi: 10.1056/NEJMcpc1609309.


Patient & Staff Stories


Annual Bridging the Divide Symposium

This annual event brings together oncologists, researchers, community mental health clinicians, patients, caregivers, advocates, and policy-makers dedicated to promoting equity in cancer care for patients with serious mental illness.


Resources

Psychiatric Oncology

Psychiatric Oncology

Learn about Mass General's Center for Psychiatric Oncology and Behavioral Sciences.

Department of Psychiatry

Department of Psychiatry

Learn about Mass General's Department of Psychiatry.

Cancer Outcomes Research Program (CORe)

Cancer Outcomes Research Program (CORe)

Mass General's CORe program conducts innovative research and educational programs.

DF/HCC

DF/HCC

Learn about the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center.

NAMI-Massachusetts

NAMI-Massachusetts

A vital state resource for individuals & families facing the challenges of mental illness.

American Cancer Society

American Cancer Society

Learn about cancer research, patient services, early detection, treatment and education.

Beacon Health Options

Beacon Health Options

Provides behavioral health solutions for regional and specialty health plans.

MA Department of Mental Health

MA Department of Mental Health

Provides access to services and supports to meet the mental health needs of individuals.

MoodNetwork

MoodNetwork

Mass General's MoodNetwork is a nationwide effort to find treatments for mood disorders.


Contact the Mass General Cancer Center

Contact us to make an appointment or to learn more about our programs.