Thesis defense Barbara Wollersheim

Barbara Wollersheim will defend her thesis with the title ‘’prostate cancer follow-up care in secondary and primary healthcare’’ at Tilburg University on Tuesday July 5, 2022.

In her thesis, she discusses what prostate cancer survivors find important in their follow-up care and what their perspectives are on current follow-up practices. After primary treatment for prostate cancer, patients enter the survivorship care phase. During this phase, some patients may encounter physical or psychosocial problems. For example, in one study they found that at 1-year follow-up, prostate cancer patients perceived erectile problems (56%), problems with the recovery period (29%), urinary problems (28%), fatigue (24%), and bowel problems (17%) to be worse than expected. It is important that clinicians working in follow-up care provide supportive care and address information needs of these patients. To guide clinicians, (tailored) supportive care interventions can help to meet the informational, emotional, social and physical needs of prostate cancer patients.
Another central question in this thesis is whether primary care should play a more prominent role in the follow-up of prostate cancer survivors. As many (prostate) cancer patients also deal with other chronic conditions, primary care seems to be a suitable place to take a holistic approach to cancer follow-up. Currently, Wollersheim coordinates a randomized controlled trial that investigates the (cost-)effectiveness of primary care-based versus hospital-based prostate cancer follow-up care, called the PROstate cancer follow-up care in Secondary and Primary hEalth Care (PROSPEC) study. The results of the 2-year follow-up of this trial are expected in 2023. During the trial, a process evaluation was conducted to help interpret the study results. The reach of the trial showed that 67% of the patients and their general practitioners were willing to receive/provide primary care-based follow-up care. Nevertheless, several challenges and requirement were identified in this study: guidelines should be developed and implemented, communication and collaboration between primary and secondary care should be improved, quality indicators should be collected, and general practitioners should be compensated. If the trial shows that primary care- is equally effective and safe as specialist-based follow-up, this process evaluation can be used to enable a smooth transition of prostate cancer follow-up to primary care.

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