It is estimated that in 2021, 57,500 Quebecers will have been diagnosed with cancer, which represents 158 new cases per day. This number has been increasing for several years and is expected to increase further in the coming years due to delays in screening caused by the pandemic.
It has been shown that, in the Quebec health network and across Canada, emotional support is what is most lacking for people affected by cancer (PAC). This lack is even more important in the context of a pandemic where emotional support and accompaniment are expected and hoped for by patients. To meet this need, accompanying peers (APs) are integrated into the clinical teams of health and social service institutions. The APs are patients, therefore people who have experience living with cancer and who have also acquired experience using health services by interacting with health professionals. They use this knowledge to help PACs (including parents of children with cancer) have a better experience with the disease and their interactions with the health care system. By becoming a AP, they turn their experience into a resource available to others, which contributes to their own well-being.
This project aims to offer, in 9 institutions in Quebec, accompaniment by APs for different types of cancer, to find the best conditions for integrating them into clinical teams, and to evaluate their effects on the experience of PACs, the health of the population, the efficiency of the health system and the well-being of professionals. In addition, the economic value of integrating APs into health care settings will be assessed from a health system perspective. This project will therefore test the AP model for different sectors (adult and pediatric), different types of cancer (prostate, thyroid, gynecological, colorectal, lung, hematology-oncology, and breast), different populations (male, female, parents), different settings (regional and urban center) and different structures (CHU, CISSS, CIUSSS). It will collect data on the effects of APs on several levels and evaluate the value of their interventions. This project will also contribute to changing the culture of the institutions by promoting patient involvement at the clinical level.
In addition, it will pave the way for the implementation of the PAROLE-Onco Program throughout Quebec, which will allow PACs to be accompanied by APs and improve their care experience. This new knowledge will allow for the development of strategies to share experiences between different institutions with the support of community groups, and to share them with other Canadian jurisdictions and other countries around the world to implement APs in their clinical settings.