Giving people with cancer more choice can improve quality of life

​A new research programme starting in 2017 will examine how nurses and other health personnel can help people with cancer become more involved in their treatment to improve quality of life.

The Novo Nordisk Foundation has awarded a grant of DKK 7.5 million so that a Danish research group based at Rigshospitalet, Herlev Hospital and Metropolitan University College can initiate a major nursing research programme in Denmark.

The grant is the first in the Novo Nordisk Foundation’s largest overall initiative within nursing research. This involves the allocation and awarding of DKK 37.5 million over the next 5 years.

The Models of Cancer Care research programme will focus on how the personnel in clinical cancer treatment and care can help people with cancer become more involved in their treatment. The aim is to strengthen the collaboration between patients, families and hospital personnel in order to reduce the often-complex symptoms which people with cancer experience during treatment, thereby improving their quality of life and that of their families.

Giving patients more choice will become a key element in the future treatment of cancer, according to Mary Jarden, the research programme leader. She is a nurse, Senior Researcher and Associate Professor at the University Hospitals Centre for Health Research at Rigshopitalet in Copenhagen.

“Every decision on treating people with cancer bases both nursing care and the medical treatment on what is in the individual patient’s best interests. No single solution is best for everyone, and we therefore need to listen to what each patient really wants,” says Mary Jarden.

Based on research on the biological, psychosocial and behavioural aspects related to the symptoms, the researchers will examine how to develop specific new tools that nurses, doctors and other care personnel can use daily to ensure that promoting the involvement of patients in their treatment programme is integrated into their care and treatment.

“We try to ensure that our research fulfils the needs of patients and the personnel involved in their care and treatment. We have therefore decided to ask the patients, care personnel and specialists in the clinic what is important in their daily activities – and the patients’ most important concerns and needs,” says Mary Jarden.

“Nurses have a key role in relation to people with cancer, who are usually treated on a long-term basis in the health care system. This research programme is interesting because it focuses on how to strengthen both the role of nurses and the right of patients to influence their treatment and care,” says Niels-Henrik von Holstein-Rathlou, Head of Research and Innovation Grants at the Novo Nordisk Foundation.

The MODEL CARE programme

The MODEL CARE programme comprises four nurse-led intervention projects:
  • promoting patient ambassador support for people recently diagnosed with leukaemia;
  • activating older people with cancer through consultation, physical activity and mobilization;
  • preventing, alleviating and managing the symptoms and concerns related to cancer and treatment; and
  • developing tools oriented towards needs and decision-making to promote the involvement of people with head and neck cancer in their clinical treatment and rehabilitation.
The research group comprises Mary Jarden, Senior Researcher and Associate Professor, Rigshospitalet; Karin Piil, postdoctoral fellow, Rigshospitalet; Dorthe Overgaard, Associate Professor, Metropolitan University College; Dorte Lisbet Nielsen, Clinical Professor, Herlev Hospital; and Lars Kjeldsen, Head, Department of Haematology, Rigshospitalet.


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