The Health Professionals Guide to Delivering Psychological Care for Men with Prostate Cancer

Suzanne K Chambers AO, PhD, Nicole Heneka, PhD, Jeff Dunn AO, PhD





Almost one-third of men with prostate cancer will experience some form of psychological distress. Compared with men in the general population, men with prostate cancer are twice as likely to experience depression and three times more likely to experience anxiety. The risk of suicide for these men is greatest within the first year after diagnosis. Over 80% of men report unmet supportive care needs in the first year after a prostate cancer diagnosis. At 15-years post-diagnosis, over one-third of these men are still reporting that significant physical and psychological care needs are unmet.

We know that unaddressed psychological distress in men with prostate cancer is associated with poorer patient outcomes. Yet despite routine clinical follow-up, many men with prostate cancer do not receive psychological interventions in a timely manner, if at all.

That’s why The Health Professionals Guide to Facing the Tiger was developed. It allows health professionals to incorporate accessible psychological support in the care they deliver to men with prostate cancer from the point of diagnosis and throughout the man’s treatment journey.

Appropriate for use by a range of practitioners, including nurses, doctors, psychologists, and social workers, this guide shows how to construct a tailored intervention centred on increasing a man’s personal agency in self-managing the challenges of prostate cancer. It applies a cognitive behavioural model and is designed to make use of the evidence-informed self-help book Facing the Tiger: A Survivorship Guide for Men with Prostate Cancer and their Partners.

The Guide provides guidance on vigilance and surveillance of psychological wellbeing by incorporating screening for distress into regular care. The strategies used are informed by firm evidence, and the approach allows for a cost-effective, low-intensity psychological intervention. The approach is men-centred and strengths-based and draws from three main perspectives: stress and coping, problem-solving, and psychological flexibility. The linking element to these perspectives is that how a person thinks about their cancer and their situation or context, the way they respond to their thinking, and the consequent actions they take all interact to influence their psychological outcome. Specifically, the approach incorporates an understanding and responsiveness to masculine values in the design of care and in the identification of a man’s personal strengths on which he can build his resilience in the face of the cancer diagnosis.

The Guide includes:
  • standardised session structure guidelines.
  • patient ­self-management ­resource Facing the Tiger as an Appendix.
  • flexible delivery options.
  • downloadable and photocopiable session worksheets.
  • a downloadable fill-in PDF patient survivorship care plan.
  • download links to free external forms and tests.
  • external resource list covering issues such as sex, urinary problems, exercise and complementary medicine.

A Facing the Tiger Psychological Care Approach Resource



About the Author

Professor Suzanne K Chambers AO, PhD
Professor Chambers AO is a health psychologist and registered nurse who has been working as a practitioner-researcher in psycho-oncology for over 30 years. She was awarded her PhD in 2004 within the School of Psychology at Griffith University and has over 300 peer-reviewed publications and numerous books, book chapters and monographs. Her work has focussed on developing models to predict help-seeking and adjustment after cancer: designing remote access psychological interventions for people affected by cancer, integrating peer support into controlled design methodologies, and integrating distress screening into interventions to target high distress cancer patient groups. Professor Chambers was appointed an Officer in the General Division of the Order of Australia (AO) in 2018 for distinguished service to medical research, particularly in the area of psycho-oncology and to community health through patient care strategies to assist men with prostate cancer. She is a Board member of Health Male (Andrology Australia). Professor Chambers is Executive Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences at the Australian Catholic University.

Dr Nicole Heneka, PhD
Dr Heneka is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow with the National Health and Medical Research Council Centre for Research Excellence in Prostate Cancer Survivorship at the University of Technology Sydney. She has over 20 years of experience in program management and has focussed on health services research in cancer and palliative care services for the last 12 years. In her current role, she leads a program of research in the delivery of prostate cancer survivorship care, including patterns of care, implementation and evaluation strategies for survivorship care, and research capacity building in survivorship care. Dr Heneka’s work in health services research has been recognised through her award of the Clinical Excellence Commission Ian O’Rourke Scholarship in Patient Safety (2016) and the Palliative Care Australia, National Emerging Researcher award (2019).

Professor Jeff Dunn AO, PhD
Professor Jeff Dunn AO is the CEO of Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia and President-Elect of the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC). His work in cancer control spans 30 years, during which time he has dedicated his career to the development of strategies that underpin cancer survival and improve awareness of the disease. He is a recognised World Cancer Leader and, prior to his appointment as UICC President-Elect, served as Treasurer of the UICC for four years and as an Elected Director for six. Professor Dunn also serves as the Professor and Chair of Social and Behavioural Science at the University of Southern Queensland, where his work has a central focus on the social and behavioural aspects of cancer, covering the continuum of research, prevention, early detection, supportive care, and quality of life. He is actively involved in research in this field and is also a Director of the West Moreton Hospital and Health Service Board and Chair of the Risk and Audit Committee. He holds an appointment as an Officer in the Order of Australia (2014) for distinguished service to medical administration through the leadership of cancer control organisations and promotion of innovative and integrated cancer care programs.