ZonMw grant for research project 'Effectiveness and cost-utility of tailored psychological treatment targeting cancer patients with an adjustment disorder'

ZonMw has recently honored the new research project of prof. dr. Irma Verdonck- de Leeuw (PI) and prof. dr. Judith Prins (co-PI) titled: ‘Effectiveness and cost-utility of tailored psychological treatment targeting cancer patients with an adjustment disorder’. The project is also funded by the KWF, and is a collaboration between VU University, Amsterdam UMC location VUmc, Radboudumc, the Helen Dowling Institute, Ingeborg Douwes Centrum, Trimbos institute, and the IKNL.

Every year more than 100.000 patients are diagnosed with cancer in the Netherlands. There is convincing empirical evidence that cancer patients have to deal with a wide range of physical symptoms and psychological, social and existential sequelae related to cancer and its treatment, both during treatment and at (long-term) follow-up. Psychological problems involve symptoms related to anxiety and depression, but also problems with adjustment to cancer and its sequelae.

To provide timely treatment, the Dutch guideline on adjustment disorders in patients with cancer recommends that patients should be screened for an adjustment disorder, followed by a diagnostic interview when one is expected. When an adjustment disorder is evident, evidence or practice based psychological interventions should be available and provided to the patient. Currently, psychological treatment is not optimally accessible for cancer patients with an adjustment disorder, as treatment for these patients is since 2012 no longer reimbursed as part of Dutch mental health treatment. This lack of reimbursement is unfavourable for these patients who are at the end of follow-up care, since the necessary psychological intervention is at this time-point no longer reimbursed as part of the medical specialist care (DOT).

To facilitate the discussion on reimbursement of psychological treatment in Dutch mental healthcare, the Dutch ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport has requested more information on the prevalence of adjustment disorders and the effectiveness, cost-utility and budget impact of providing psychological treatment to cancer patients with an adjustment disorder. The research project targets patients with various forms of cancer and will be performed in collaboration with treatment providers of different hospitals. It will provide insight into the reach, effectiveness, cost-utility and budget impact of psychological interventions for these patients after primary treatment. In addition, insight will be generated into the adoption and actual implementation and (long-term) effects of psychological interventions on patient-reported outcomes and healthcare utilization.