Patient partners are at the heart of the four winning research projects in the 2nd edition of the “Patient Priority” competition organized by Oncopole – the cancer research arm of the Fonds de recherche du Québec – Santé (FRQS).
The purpose of this competition is to support research projects aimed at providing better support for cancer sufferers in Quebec. In particular, by improving the trajectory of care and services they receive in oncology.
The announcement comes on the occasion of the BIO International Convention, taking place in San Diego from June 13 to 16, attended by representatives of Oncopole, the FRQS cancer cluster, the Ministère de l’Économie et de l’Innovation (MEI), the Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux (MSSS), and Merck Canada. The four teams will receive $200,000 each over two years from Oncopole, thanks to financial support from MEI and its founding partner, Merck Canada.
What these innovative projects have in common is the inclusion of patient partners in each of the research teams. They will be involved from the project’s conception through to its implementation in a clinical setting, as well as its evaluation with a view to extending its scope to other care and health centers in Quebec. This contest is organized in collaboration with the Unité de soutien au système de santé apprenant (SSA) Québec and the Programme québécois de cancérologie of the MSSS.
Recipients of Oncopole’s “Patient Priority” program
PAROLE-Onco +: peer coaches to improve the experience of patients living with cancer
The context of the pandemic has highlighted the lack of emotional support for people affected by cancer. To better respond to this need, the PAROLE-Onco + project will pair patients with peer companions – people who have lived with cancer – to support them and share their knowledge throughout their journey of care and health services.
Led by Marie-Pascale Pomey, a professor at the Université de Montréal’s School of Public Health, the PAROLE-Onco + project will test a proven model of peer support for adults and children with different types of cancer (prostate, thyroid, gynecological, colorectal, lung, hemato-oncology and breast), in regional and urban contexts within different structures (CHU, CISSS, CIUSSS).
In addition to Ms. Pomey, the team is made up of 23 co-investigators, including seven patient partners, from Université de Montréal, Université Laval, Université de Sherbrooke and HEC Montréal.
Intervention eG2: a virtual speech therapy intervention in swallowing guided by a patient partner
Chemoradiotherapy treatments are notorious for producing significant side effects in head and neck cancer patients, leading to swallowing problems or dysphagia. Led by Marie-Eve Caty, professor in the Department of Speech Therapy at the Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières, Intervention eG2 is evaluating the benefits of a virtual group speech therapy intervention model to prevent swallowing disorders in these patients undergoing chemoradiotherapy in a specialized care setting.
Halfway between group therapy and a support group, this telehealth approach enables patients to participate in weekly meetings led by a speech therapist accompanied by a patient partner. The aim of these meetings is to support them in preventing dysphagia-related complications, thereby improving their quality of life and quality of care.
This project is being carried out in collaboration with eight co-investigators, including a patient partner, affiliated with the Centre hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal (CHUM).
Virtual reality and hypnosis to support multiple myeloma patients
Drawing inspiration from fast-growing programs, David Ogez, professor in the Department of Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine at the Université de Montréal, has developed a new approach to support that combines virtual reality and hypnosis. Developed by clinicians, researchers, digital artists and patient partners in remission from cancer, this new program will be validated with patients suffering from multiple myeloma, one of the most aggressive hematological cancers, with the most side effects from treatment.
During this experience, each patient will be accompanied by a speaker in the form of an avatar. It will offer individualized care aimed at providing patients with an experience that distracts them from the negative emotions and physical discomforts they experience during stem cell transplantation.
David Ogez’s research team is made up of eleven co-investigators, including two patient partners affiliated with the Université de Montréal.
The VIE project: towards integrated interventions for pediatric oncology patients and their families
People who have survived cancer in childhood are at greater risk of developing major health problems in adulthood, such as cardiovascular disease, obesity, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes. Researcher Valérie Marcil, a professor in the Department of Nutrition at the Université de Montréal, has therefore created a personalized program of early interventions involving nutrition, physical activity and psychosocial support for newly-diagnosed pediatric cancer patients.
Aimed at children undergoing oncology treatment and their families, this “toolbox” is also used to train healthcare professionals to facilitate the development of interventions in other centers.
Valérie Marcil’s research team is made up of ten co-investigators, including two patient partners, all affiliated with Université de Montréal, Université Laval and Université de Sherbrooke.
A competition to transform oncology care and services
Thanks to a public-private partnership between the Ministère de l’Économie et de l’Innovation and Merck Canada, Oncopole is able to support these four projects through the “Priorité patient” competition, enabling research teams to contribute to the transformation of cancer care and services.
“The research teams were able to draw on the life experience of people affected by cancer to design and carry out their projects, and we also benefited from the expertise of our patient partners when evaluating the projects to ensure their relevance to the target population,” emphasizes Carole Jabet, Director of Oncopole and Scientific Director of the FRQS.
“We offer our sincere congratulations to the winners of the second Patient First competition. As a founding member of the Oncopole initiative, Merck Canada is extremely proud to continue year after year to support research projects that serve to improve the care and service experience, as well as the quality of life, for people living with cancer and their families. We are deeply invested in the advancement of research and in partnerships that meet patients’ needs. This project demonstrates our commitment to our shared mission and vision: to save and improve lives,” concludes Jennifer Chan, Executive Director, Health Policy and External Affairs, Merck Canada Inc.