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Interview with Prof. Irma Verdonck-de Leeuw: Help patients to monitor their quality of life themselves

Irmgard Verdonck-de Leeuw

Prof. Irma Verdonck-de Leeuw’s research comprises quality of life and psycho-oncology in cancer patients and their families. Cancer has a great impact on quality of life in patients, but they seldom talk about their quality of life unless they are specifically asked to do so. With the help of questionnaires (Patient Related Outcome Measures, PROMs) it is possible to find out which people are in need for supportive or psychosocial care. At the VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, the touch screen computer system OncoQuest is used as a PROM. Using OncoQuest, patients complete three questionnaires, the EORTC QLQ-C30, a tumor-specific measure, and the hospital anxiety and depression scale. Nurses are the first to see the results. Due to financial and time constraints it is often difficult to implement PROMS in clinical practice. Also, the care personnel may be reluctant to use such an innovation in their clinic, but ultimately patients and personnel profit from the results. Besides OncoQuest, the Medical Center also uses OncoCompass. This online system can be used by the patients at home and is considered to be a self-help management instrument. The patients receive automatized comments on their situation and advice as to where they can get further help. When there are serious issues, the patients’ general physician is contacted. OncoCompass was developed by a variety of stakeholders, including nurses, dieticians, psychologists and health insurance companies. Prof. Irma Verdonck-de Leeuw expects that OncoQuest and OncoCompass will be cost-effective because it should reduce clinical and societal costs. A study regarding their effectiveness and cost-effectiveness is ongoing.

Irma Verdonck is professor at the VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

This interview was recorded at EONS 2016 which took place in Dublin on October 17-18, 2016.

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