"A revolution is needed to bring science closer to the cancer patient."

“A revolution is needed to bring science closer to the cancer patient.”


Opening lecture Marij van der Lee: “A revolution is needed to bring science closer to the cancer patient”

On Friday, April 16th, Professor Marij van der Lee will deliver her inaugural lecture “What works for whom in psycho-oncology?” At Tilburg University. Van der Lee illustrates the gap between scientific research and clinical practice. “Because of this gap, we are not sure which psychological care is best suited for the client sitting in front of us,” says the professor at Tilburg. “To gain more information about what works for whom, a new approach is needed: a network approach.”

I got entangled

The complaint rarely comes alone. Van der Lee sees this in the daily clinical practice of the Helen Dowling Institute. “Chronic severe fatigue, fear of cancer recurrence, depression: often a lot happens at the same time, and people seek help only when they become involved in a network of problems, which they can no longer get rid of on their own or with the help of their environment.”

This is little taken into account in the research. Van der Lee: Researchers often focus on a single problem when they investigate the efficacy of a treatment. For example, if the reduction in anxiety is greater in the group of people receiving treatment than in the group not receiving treatment, they conclude that the treatment is working. However, this conclusion is based on the group mean. Not to mention if he works with people in clinical practice who deal with multiple complaints at the same time. ”

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A revolution in psychology

Van der Lee sees the network approach as a revolution in psychology that can help bring research closer to practice and the individual. The network approach sees complaints as elements of a complex, dynamic system in which symptoms activate one another. For example, pain in your arm can lead to anxiety about cancer recurrence, resulting in lack of sleep, and causing problems with concentration and fatigue, which increases anxiety. This creates a self-reinforcing network of symptoms that can hinder a person’s functioning in a way we speak of a “psychological disorder”.

Mapping the complaints network for each individual patient

The network approach maps the complaints network of an individual patient. In this way, clients gain insight into the relationship between their complaints and their behavior and beliefs. That way, they can instantly have a better grip and think better about the treatment needed. The chance that the approach will be effective also increases.

About Marij van der Lee

a. Marij van der Lee has worked at the Helen Dowling Institute since 2007. In addition to a specialist in mental health psychology, she is the head of the scientific research department in June 2020, Mariage was appointed professor with a special appointment and will hold the chair for a period of five years. ? ” At Tilburg University in the Department of Medical and Clinical Psychology. With this special chair, the Helen Dowling Institute wants to put psychological oncology care on the map. More on Marij van der Lee

About the Helen Dowling Institute

The Helen Dowling Institute has been a leading institute in the field of psycho-oncology since its inception in 1988. The Human Development Index provides professional psychological care to people who, as patients or loved ones, are affected by cancer. In addition, HDI conducts scientific research and provides training from Helen Dowling Academy.

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Source: Tilburg University

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