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Psychosocial Research and Epidemiology: Neil Aaronson

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Neil Aaronson, Ph.D. profesorGroup leader, Professor

About Neil Aaronson

Introduction
With a background in clinical psychology and public health, I have a keen interest in assessing how individuals adjust to their illness and medical treatment. For me, the NKI is the perfect place to do high-quality applied research that will make a difference for patients and their families. It also gives me a base from which I can link to many international research groups.

Health-related quality of life assessment in clinical research and clinical practice
Over the past 25 years I have championed the development and use of standardized questionnaires for assessing the health-related quality of life (HRQOL) of patient with cancer. I believe that, If you provide physicians and nurses with structured information about the functional health, symptom experience and quality of life of their patients, they will be better attuned to their patients' problems and limitations, and can thus provide better care, either directly or through referral to appropriate supportive care services. Although our questionnaires were initially developed for use in research settings, it has been exciting to see them move into the clinic. Patients can now complete such questionnaires on a touchscreen computer in-clinic, or via internet at home. Their digital responses can be integrated into the electronic medical record, and can be used at point of care (i.e., during clinical encounters) to facilitate doctor-patient and nurse-patient communication. At the same time, when aggregated across patients, these HRQOL data can inform treatment policy and quality of care initiatives on a system wide level.

Development and evaluation of psychosocial and behavioral interventions
In a related line of research, we are developing and evaluating a range of behavioral interventions to relieve symptoms and enhance the physical and psychosocial well-being of our patients. For example, we recently completed a large scale, multicenter study in which we were able to demonstrate that both counseling (cognitive behavioral therapy) and physical exercise are effective in reducing the burden of endocrine symptoms experienced by young breast cancer patients who have gone into premature, treatment-induced menopause. Similarly, we are currently investigating the efficacy of low and moderate intensity physical exercise as a means of minimizing fatigue and maintaining physical fitness among breast and colon cancer patients during adjuvant chemotherapy. We are also studying the usefulness of an internet-based sexual therapy program for women with breast cancer. All of our research is aimed at enhancing the physical and psychosocial functioning and well-being, and the quality of life of our patients and their families. 

Co-workers

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Dr. Marieke van Leeuwen

Postdoctoral fellow

Experience

I attended the University of Amsterdam, where I received degrees in clinical psychology and medial biology. I received my Ph.D. from the VU University, Department of Biological Psychology. My Ph.D. thesis was on the heritability of cognition of pre-adolescents. My current work is focused on the health- related quality of life (HRQL) of cancer survivors. Recently, I've completed an international feasibility study of the HRQL of long-term survivors of testicular and prostate cancer who were treated in the context of EORTC phase III clinical trials. Currently, I'm developing and evaluating an internet-based cognitive behavioral therapy program to alleviate treatment-induced menopausal symptoms in patients with breast cancer.

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Lisanne Hummel

Drs. Lisanne Hummel

Ph.D. student

Experience

As a PhD student, with a background in Clinical Psychology, I am performing a randomized, controlled, multicenter study of an internet-based cognitive behavioral therapy program for sexuality and intimacy problems in women with breast cancer. Research shows that approximately 50% of breast cancer survivors report some form of sexual dysfunction as a result of treatment. Many of these women consider face-to-face therapy for sexuality problems to be confronting. When proven to be effective, this internet-based therapy will be a welcome addition to the care offered to these women, with the aim of improving the quality of life after breast cancer.

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Dr. Jacobien Kieffer

Statistical analyst

Experience

My background is in psychological research methods, which I studied at the University of Amsterdam. I obtained my PhD from the Academic Centre of Dentistry (ACTA). My thesis was on methodological issues in oral health-related quality of life research. Throughout my career, I have always had a teacher and/ or advisory role. Therein also lies my interest in my current position as senior statistical analyst. It provides me with the opportunity to be involved in a range of projects and to work collaboratively with colleagues with varying backgrounds and levels of expertise.

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Marianne Kuenen

Research Assistant

Experience

I graduated as a Dietitian at the Academy Dietetiek inNijmegen. After nine years of clinical experience I had the opportunity to work as a Research Assistant at the Division of Psychosocial Research and Epidemiology where I followed several courses.

My current work consists of conducting neuropsychological tests and collecting and management of data.

I am involved in some Scientific studies like: P09PCI study, HOVON105, M12PHA study, Skinlast study, TIME-trial and scientific research on cognitive function after treatment of cancer.

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Vera Atema

PhD-student

Experience

By training I am a Health Psychologist, with experience in teaching, clinical work and research. Currently, I am working as a PhD student on a project (EVA-Online) in which we evaluate the efficacy of an Internet-based intervention for women who experience breast cancer treatment-induced menopausal symptoms. When demonstrated to be effective, the availability of such structured supportive online intervention programs will be a welcome addition to standard medical treatment offered to cancer survivors with treatment-induced menopause.

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Marijke Wevers MD

Ph.D. student

Experience

After finishing medical school at the University of Groningen, I began working as a clinical geneticist in training at the UMC Utrecht. Concurrently, I began as a PhD student at the NKI. My PhD research is a randomized clinical trial of the effect of rapid genetic counseling and testing prior to surgery on treatment choice and psychosocial well-being in newly diagnosed breast cancer patients who are at increased risk of having a hereditary form of the disease.

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Dr. Wim Groen

Postdoctoral fellow

Experience

I was trained as a human movement scientist and obtained my PhD for studying (measurement of) functional ability of hemophilia patients.

My research interests are in the area of exercise and eHealth in cancer survivorship. In the past years, we have developed and implemented a patient portal in the NKI to support cancer patients and survivors. Recently we obtained funding for a multicenter trial to further study the effects of an online physical activity support program for survivors.  I am also involved in a project that aims to develop exercise programs for metastatic breast cancer patients.

Lastly, I initiated an exercise testing facility in the NKI that is used for measurement of cardiorespiratory fitness for clinical and research purposes.

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Drs. Hanna van Waart

Ph.D. student

Experience

I studied Human Movement Sciences at the VU University, supplemented with a year Physiotherapy at the Hogeschool of Amsterdam. I worked on several research projects at the VUmc, EMGO+ and pharmacy, focusing on either exercise (back pain and depression) or patients with cancer (adherence with oral chemotherapy).

My PhD research is the PACES study: Physical exercise during Adjuvant Chemotherapy Effectiveness Study. This is a large, multicenter, randomized clinical trial evaluating the effectiveness of physical activity and exercise during chemotherapy in maintaining physical fitness and minimizing fatigue in patients with breast or colon cancer.

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Drs. Miranda Gerritsma

Research Assistant

Experience

As a research assistant I work on several different projects. These are projects of the Epidemiology Group as well as the Psychosocial Group. I support the different projects in their data collection by recruiting respondents, administering questionnaires / interviews and collecting the data from medical files.

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Recent publications View All Publications

  • ISOQOL recommends minimum standards for patient-reported Outcome Measures Used in Patient-Centered Outcomes Research

    (2013) Quality of Life Research (Epub ahead of print).

    Reeve BB, Wyrwich KW, Wu AW, Velikova G, Terwee CB, Snyder CF, Schwartz C, Revicki DA, MoinpourCM , McLeod LD, Lyons JC, Lenderking...

    Link to Pubmed
  • Comparing higher order models for the EORTC QLQ-C30

    (2012) Quality of Life Research 21:1607-17.

    Gundy CM, Fayers PM, Groenvold M, Petersen MA, Scott NW, Sprangers MAG, Velikova G, Aaronson NK.

    Link to Pubmed
 

Contact

  • Office manager

    Yvonne Driessen-Ruwaard & Danielle Groenewegen

  • E-mail

    secretariaat.PSOE@nki.nl

  • Telephone Number

    0031 20 512 2480

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