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What is DART?

The Distress Assessment and Response Tool (DART) is a computer-based survey to assess a patient’s over-all well-being, including physical symptoms, practical concerns and emotional state-not just their cancer. The leading distress screening program in Canada, DART includes built-in clinical response pathways to help patients with identified concerns.

How is DART delivered?

DART comes in two forms: an in-depth review of emotional and practical concerns that is completed every few months, and a short version that is used for every clinic visit. Patients fill out DART on touchscreen computer kiosks in the waiting area. The results can be used to provide them with individually tailored educational materials based on the assessment.

How is DART different?

With an electronic record of a patient’s symptoms, tracked over a period of time, health care providers will be better equipped to assess a patient’s therapeutic progress.

More importantly, DART covers the aspects of a patient’s life that may not be addressed in a typical exam or clinic visit. In particular, assessing anxiety and distress encourages patients to discuss those issues openly, and allows the health care team to integrate psychosocial support into regular cancer care. Tailoring holistic care—treating the whole person, not just the disease—is a key part of personalized medicine, allowing the healthcare team to deliver the right care, for the right patient, at the right time.

DART is now a standard of care in every Princess Margaret Cancer Centre clinic and all Princess Margaret staff are involved in using this tool to help patients.