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Towards theory-based behavioral interventions to improve timely initiation of palliative care for persons with cancer

Theory-based behavioral interventions that improve timely palliative care initiation are necessary


10-2017 to 09-2020

Abstract project


Although palliative care (PC) leads to improved quality of life in people with cancer, it is often initiated too late or not initiated at all. Current studies focusing on timely initiation of PC are doing so from a health service and health professional perspective and rarely from a health promotion perspective focusing on the pertinent role that behavior of the patient can play. The change of certain behaviors of patients could improve the timely initiation of PC in the disease trajectory. Theory-based behavioral research and interventions are needed to understand patient behaviors and to realize patient behavioral change. Within this proposal, people with a non-curable cancer starting a conversation about palliative care with a treating health professional is the defined behavior to be examined and assumed to be contributing to more timely initiation of PC.


The specific objectives are threefold:
1) to develop a palliative care behavioral model by defining determinants of ‘starting a conversation about palliative care with a health professional’ in people with non-curable cancer;
2) to examine the relationship between the defined determinants within the develop palliative care behavioral model, the intention to perform the behavior and the behavior itself in people with non-curable cancer;
3) to develop a behavioral intervention based on our model and evaluate its acceptability and feasibility.


We address the research objectives through different study designs including a qualitative interview study, a cross-sectional survey study and a feasibility study. This research methodology is frequently and successfully used in behavioral studies within health promotion.


Bijzonder Onderzoeksfonds (BOF) (Ghent University)

Project group

Promotor: Luc Deliens
Co-promotor: Benedicte Deforche
Project member: Joachim Cohen 
Daily supervisor: Kim Beernaert
Researcher: Anne-Lore Scherrens