Does the usage of pancreatic cancer Patient Reported Experience Measure (PREM) results during Multidisciplinary Oncology Consultations (MOCs) lead to MOCs being more person-centred in Belgium: a multi-method research project

The necessity of this doctoral research project is related to the need to investigate and promote person-centred care provision in the context of 'oncology', where many evolutions are taking place but whereby the study of the acceptability of e.g. new care initiatives as expressed by patients is of paramount importance. Patient Reported Experience measures (PREMs) can be used to assess this acceptability and in this way provide a medium/ format for patients to voice and represent their needs and experiences.

Since July 2019 a reform in the organization of Belgian pancreatic cancer care was executed resulting in the creation of reference centres where patients are redirected to for e.g. complex surgical interventions. Throughout the entire care process patients will meet different health care professionals who are ought to work multidisciplinary especially when setting-up the treatment and care plan for the patient. In Belgian oncology this multidisciplinary teamwork is legally structured via the Multidisciplinary Oncology Consultations (MOCs) that are being organized. Notwithstanding, studies have shown that during these MOCs there is no room left to exchange information related to patient preferences and psychosocial aspects. This research project takes this deficiency on board aiming to study if including PREM results during MOCs can improve the delivery of person-centred pancreatic cancer care, and foremost to identify what needs to be in place during a MOC meeting to be able to use these PREM results.

The project involves the development and validation of a PREM to measure the experiences of the care process of pancreatic cancer patients. Focus groups with MOC participants/ health care professionals and individual interviews with pancreatic cancer patients will be organized. The validation study will be conducted conform the COSMIN criteria. The PREM results will be tested in terms of their possible usage during MOCs accompanied by a facilitating intervention, using a pragmatic randomized clinical trial study design.

This research project is financed by the Cancer Centre of Sciensano.

Period: 11-2019 to 12-2022

Contact person(s) of the project: Katrien Moens


An online ethnographic study of social media use among people with rheumatic conditions

This PhD  studies how social media influence the lived experience and meaning making processes of chronic illness, in particular for people confronted with rheumatic suffering. The PhD aims to uncover patterns on the one hand how personal narratives on rheumatic suffering are commodified through storytelling online, and on the other hand how group narratives are socially constructed online and how these impact on how people attribute meaning to their living with rheumatic symptoms/conditions. A comparison will eventually be made between online and offline processes. The research uses an online ethnographic design. A particular chapter of this PhD will describe and discuss the methodological aspects of online ethnographic research.

Period 09-2018 to 09-2024

Contact person(s) of the project: Tom Van Ransbeeck


The organization of multidisciplinary collaboration in chronic conditions

Chronic illness presents new challenges for the organization of healthcare. Chronic healthcare must take into account the needs and demands of the patient rather than only considering the medical aspects of the illness. Moreover, healthcare in chronic conditions is provided by a team of care professionals and therefore more research in multidisciplinary communication, multidisciplinary collaboration and new ways of coordinating care between different disciplines is needed. This research project aims to review existing models and determinants of multidisciplinary collaboration in chronic conditions. Additional empirical research will be conducted focusing on the facilitators and the barriers for the implementation of multidisciplinary collaboration in chronic care trajectories.

Period: 01-2018 to 12-2020

Contact person(s) of the project: Saskia Baes


The organization of multidisciplinary diagnostics for school-aged patients with NDDD in Belgium

Early detection of neurodevelopmental delays and disorders has an important impact on subsequent development and opportunities, and has the potential to decrease service utilization and economic burden later in life. Despite the fact that the Belgian and Flanders health system provides different types of settings offering multidisciplinary diagnostics, experience shows that an early, fast and fluent diagnostic trajectory, accessible for every child, is currently not guaranteed for the entire population. This research project aims at developing scientifically grounded knowledge in order to improve the organisation and accessibility of multidisciplinary diagnostics for children with a neurodevelopmental delay or disorder in Belgium. The results of this research project will be translated into recommendations to improve the organisation and accessibility to diagnostic services. This research project is funded by the King Boudouin Foundation.

Period: 01-2017 to 12-2019

Contact person(s) of the project: Eva Cloet


The accessibility of multidisciplinary diagnostics of development disorders in Flanders, with specific attention for autism spectrum disorders

This project, funded by the Flemish Government, aims to evaluate  the accessbibility of multidisciplinary diagnostics of developmental disorders (DD) in organizations funded by the government. Reason for his research project  are the long waiting periods for multidisciplinary diagnostic of DD and the social inequalities in the accessibility. This project will result in policy recommendations to improve the accessbility.

Period 11-2018 to 12-2019

Contact person(s) of the project: Eva Cloet 


Curriculum Development using VR technology to enhance empathetic communication skills in future health care professionals (EmpathyInHealth)

The main aim of EmpathyInHealth is to develop a curriculum for empathetic skills development in healthcare practitioners and home carers based on up to date evidence and cutting edge technology tools. Empathy is key to effective communication between patients and health care practitioners and has been shown to positively affect health outcomes and patient satisfaction as well as to improve patient safety. Communicating with patients is the most frequent practice by health care providers, however communications skills training in undergraduate health care programmes is variable and assessment of interpersonal competencies is often neither reliable nor consistent. Empathetic communication is also very important for patients receiving home care. It is therefore important to enhance empathetic communication in curricula for undergraduate health care programmes and for Vocational Educational and Training (VET) home care programmes. In addition, it is crucial that new technologies are introduced in teaching in order to build new competencies. Virtual Reality (VR) is currently applied in many fields of healthcare education including clinical and interpersonal skills training. EmpathyInHealth activities will include the development of empathetic skills curriculum that will be based on current research evidence and patient participation, and use of this curriculum to create high acuity virtual scenarios. These scenarios will provide a consistent clinical communication experience, enhance empathetic competence in future healthcare workers and carers.

This project is funded by the Erasmus+ programme (KA203 Strategic Partnerships for higher education). The organisations participating in the current project are: University of Nicosia Medical School, MMC Management Center (Host organisation – Cyprus), Cyprus Certification Company (Cyprus), Vrije Universiteit Brussel/OPIH (Belgium), Evangelische Hochschule Berlin (Germany), University of Thessaly (Greece) and OmegaTech (Greece). 

Period 09-2019 to 12-2022

Contact person(s) of the project: Melissa Horlait



Palliative care communication in oncology departments in Flanders, Belgium

Palliative care is the active, total care for patients (and their relatives) whose disease is not responsive to curative treatment(s). Early initiated palliative care has the potential to improve the quality of life of patients and their relatives through timely identification of emerging needs and problems of physical, psychosocial and spiritual nature. Yet, for many cancer patients palliative care is only initiated late in their disease course or even not at all. This dissertation starts from the hypothesis that clear, compassionate and timely communication about palliative care with cancer patients will result in better and earlier implementation of palliative care. This research project aims to understand barriers and facilitating factors in the communication on palliative care in medical oncology settings in Flemish hospitals in Belgium.

Period: 02-2013 to 08-2017

Contact person(s) of the project: Melissa Horlait


The organization of care and support for children and adults with autism spectrum disorders (ASS) in Flanders

This project aims at making an inventory of the needs children and adults with an autism spectrum disorder have on behalf of care and support, makes an inventory of and detect gaps in the currently provided care and support in Flanders and will explore the development of a collaborating network between the providers. This research project is commissioned by the Flemish Authorities.

Period: 04-2018 to 01-2019

Contact person(s) of the project: Eva Cloet 



For-CARE: Implementation of healthcare trajectories for mentally ill offenders 

The interuniversity For-CARE Project, commissioned by the federal Minister of Social Affairs and Health, studies the implementation of a Master Policy Plan for reforms in the care for mentally ill offenders (MIO) in Belgium. One of the core research questions focuses on how interorganisational and intersectoral collaboration contributes to a better organization of MIO care trajectories. The research is grounded in scientific discussions on mandated interorganisational networks, its governance and in realist evaluation methods. The research aims to support policy makers, organisations and practitioners to optimize the care for MIO. 

Period: 01-2016 to 12-2018

Contact person(s) of the project: Mark Leys


Development of a collaboration model for Mental Health Care Centers and Rehabilitation Centers in Flanders, resulting in better care for children with complex, multiple development  disorders in comorbidity with  mental health problems

This project, funded by the Flemish Government, aims to develop a collaborative model for Mental Health Care Centers and Rehabiltation Centers in Flanders, based on an analysis of the needs of the population (children with complex developmental disorders and mental health problems) and the current support and rehabilition programs offerd by the included organisations. Aim of the collaboration is better, highly specialised and integrated care for those children, having specific needs.

Period 02-2019 to 11-2019

Contact person(s) of the project: Eva Cloet