Announcement of the winners of the Priorité patient Competition – Research to serve the needs of cancer patients
Announcement of the winners of the Priorité patient Competition – Research to serve the needs of cancer patients

07 October 2020

Oncopole, the result of a unique co-creation process led by the Fonds de recherche du Québec – Santé (FRQS) and made possible by an initial $15M investment from Merck Canada, created the Priorité-patient Program in partnership with the FRQS, Unité de soutien SRAP du Québec, and with the collaboration of the Programme québécois de cancérologie (PQC) du ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux. Oncopole is proud today to announce the winners of the Priorité patient Competition. Four research projects, aimed at improving the care and service trajectory of cancer patients in Quebec, benefit from a substantial amount over 2 years. The competition’s initial budget made it possible to finance at least three projects. An additional contribution from GSK allowed the funding of a fourth project, bringing the total investment to $800,000.


The Priorité patient Competition
The objective of Priorité patient is to fund research projects that will improve the care and services being provided, as well as the quality of life of cancer patients and their loved ones. It is increasingly recognized that patients provide substantial and relevant information about the challenges they face throughout their cancer care trajectory. The program was therefore built with the intention to directly involve patients: the research themes addressed in this competition stem in particular from consultations with Oncopole’s patient-partner committee; the evaluation committee is composed in part of patients; and the team for each project includes at least one patient or caregiver who is involved from the project’s design to its completion and a health or social services professional who practices directly with patients and their families.

In addition, in collaboration with Unité de soutien SRAP du Québec, training and support are offered to the teams to ensure they have the tools they need to integrate patients into the definition and carrying out of their research project. Dr. Alain Vanasse, Scientific Director of Unité de soutien SRAP du Québec is delighted with this initiative: “Engaging patients in the research process is essential for improving care trajectories and practices. The projects presented in the Priorité patient Competition perfectly embody the idea of ​​making patients proactive partners who participate in shaping health research and, therefore, health care. ”


The funded projects will thus equip health and social service professionals, managers, decision-makers and community groups to implement new practices for the benefit of users.


Four projects funded to implement new practices for the benefit of patients
A committee, made up of care and social services experts and patients, thoroughly evaluated the projects and selected those that best meet their needs.

Fighting procedural pain in pediatric oncology with communication strategies: a pilot study of the Rel@x training
[Serge  Sultan, Ph.D., Researcher at the CHU Sainte-Justine Research Centre, Professor, Departments of Psychology/Pediatrics, Université de Montréal, Centre for Psycho-Oncology
and David Ogez, Ph.D., Lecturer, Department of Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Université de Montréal, Psychologist at the Pain Management Clinic, Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital, Head of the Scientific Committee and representative of the psychologists at the Quebec Hypnosis Society]

The research team will lead two projects on a training program called Rel@x. It is based on using hypnotic communication during painful procedures on patients and is aimed at nurses. The purpose of these studies is to evaluate the acquisition and maintenance of communication skills by these health professionals, and the impact on patients in real-life situations in paediatric haematology-oncology clinics. The training and optimal use of these techniques could lead to a significant reduction in pain and distress in children being treated for cancer.


Integration of the Discutons Santé web tool into the radio-oncology care trajectory for prostate cancer patients
[Dr. Marie-Thérèse Lussier, MD, B.Sc., M.Sc., FCFP, Professor, Department of Family and Emergency Medicine, Université de Montréal, Director of the RRSPUM CISSS Laval
and Dr. Marie-Andrée Fortin, MD, FRCPC, Chief of the Radiation Oncology Department and Medical Co-manager in Oncology, Centre intégré de santé et de services sociaux de Laval, Associate Clinical Professor, Department of Radiology, Radiation Oncology and Nuclear Medicine – Université de Montréal]

The Discussons Santé (DS) website ( offers several tools to help patients communicate with caregivers and prepare their medical consultations. This site was set up to fill the communication gaps and the lack of tools available for people affected by cancer. In particular, the study offers to identify the barriers and facilitating factors for the introduction of DS in the care trajectory of prostate cancer patients. Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among Canadian men. The initiative targets three radio-oncology centres in Quebec and will make it possible to describe the potential provincial scope of the project.

OncoBuddy and OncoConseil – A research project to integrate peer support and peer counselling into the Opal Patient Portal
[John Kildea, Ph.D., Medical Physicist, Assistant Professor, Gerald Bronfman Dept. of Oncology, McGill University and Tarek Hijal, MD, Chief, Division of Radiation Oncology, McGill University Health Centre]

New cancer patients and their caregivers face many psychological, logistical and medical challenges. Peers, meaning people who have already lived through these circumstances, can provide empathetic support and help reduce cancer-related anxiety by sharing their experiences. Through this project, the research team will use artificial intelligence to improve the availability and effectiveness of peer support in Quebec by matching patients and peers using the Opal patient portal app (


Development and evaluation of an electronic communication program aimed at improving the quality of life and survival of patients in remission from a cancer
[Sylvie Lambert, Ph.D., Associate Professor, McGill University, St. Mary’s Research Centre
and Rosana Faria, Psychologist – Cancer Care Program, CIUSSS de l’Ouest-de-l’île-de-Montréal, St. Mary’s Hospital Centre.]

The research project aims to develop and test a new electronic program to regularly collect and follow symptoms reported by cancer survivors called e-IMPAQc (survivorship) delivered using the Opal mobile application. This communication platform will enable cancer survivors and their caregivers to facilitate continuity of care, improve screening and management of long-term and late effects of cancer and refer them to the appropriate treatment and support at the right time. The ultimate goal is to improve their quality of life and survival.


“With Priorité patient, Oncopole is very proud to support projects that look after the interests of cancer patients. I would like to thank in particular all the patients and caregivers for their remarkable involvement in carrying out the program, as well as our valuable partners. I would also like to highlight the excellence of the very promising winning projects to improve the trajectory of care and services for cancer patients”, points out Renaldo Battista, Executive Director of Oncopole.


About Oncopole
Oncopole is a Quebec hub for research, development and investment to accelerate the fight against cancer. Created in February of 2017, it is the product of a unique co-creation process led by the Fonds de recherche du Québec – Santé (FRQS) and made possible by an initial $15M investment from Merck Canada. Oncopole’s mission is to act as a catalyst leveraging actions made by the key players in Quebec’s oncology and innovation research ecosystem. As a result, it aims to position the province as a leader in the field. Its priorities of action, namely research, entrepreneurship, commercialization and integration of innovation, as well as clinical relevance, are orchestrated in order to foster the mobilization of stakeholders, the discovery of innovative approaches to fight cancer and, ultimately, a positive impact for the benefit of patients.


About Unité de soutien SRAP du Québec
Unité de soutien SRAP du Québec (Quebec’s Patient-Oriented Research Strategy (SPOR) Support Unit) facilitates, strengthens and develops patient-oriented research (POR). It is part of the national strategy for patient-oriented research established by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR). It supports the integration of research results with and for patients into clinical and organizational practices in order to improve the experience and the health of the population by providing mentoring, advisory services, training, grants, scientific events, support and tools. For more details or to submit a service request, visit