Better support for people with cancer and their caregivers through international collaboration

Transnational project kicks-off to evaluate Dyadic Psychosocial and Educational Interventions for People with Advanced Cancer and their Informal Caregivers (DIAdIC).

On 10 January 2019, experts from nine research institutions from Belgium, Denmark, Italy, Ireland, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom have started the DIAdIC project, a large transdisciplinary project to provide better support to people with advanced cancer and their family caregivers. A diagnosis of advanced cancer has ramifications for the person with the disease as well as for the family caregiver. Good psychosocial and educational support for both can substantially reduce these and improve the quality of life of both. The international project will provide the needed evidence about which psychosocial and educational interventions are most effective.

According to the Project Coordinator, Prof Joachim Cohen of the VUB, “a major strength and uniqueness of the DIAdIC project is that it considers the patient-caregiver dyad as a unit and that it supports them using tailored interventions that are complementary to the existing professional care.  In a context of limited resources for healthcare there are also limitations to how much professional caregivers such as physicians and nurses can provide psychosocial and educational support. By supporting the dyad in their own home, outside of a contact with health care services, we expect to have more impact on improving families’ wellbeing.”

The DIAdIC project will develop and evaluate two different methods of administering the interventions: a face-to-face method provided in the patient-caregiver dyad’s home by a specially trained professional and an eHealth self-administered tool. Both are tailored to the needs of both patients and caregivers. The interventions will address five core areas:

  • supporting family involvement in care
  • addressing issues of hopelessness, fears and concerns about the disease
  • increasing coping effectiveness to deal with stress related to the disease and caregiving
  • reducing uncertainty about the disease and treatments
  • teaching self-care strategies for symptom management

The project is funded by the EU Research and Innovation programme Horizon 2020 and has a budget of over 4 million EUR for a period of five years, until December 2023. By that time the interventions will be available for all European countries to provide good psychosocial and educational support to patients and their family carers. With almost 4 million people in the EU newly diagnosed with cancer every year, the impact of the project could be enormous.



This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 825722.

Contact person:
Prof Joachim Cohen, Project Coordinator

Partner organisations:


VUB is an internationally oriented university in Brussels, the heart of Europe. For more than 180 years VUB has helped build a better society as an innovative, free inquiring and critical thinking university. A never-ending quest for knowledge, insights and enlightenment form the golden thread in all we do in education, research and social commitment. At the same time we continue to advance our very personal and democratic approach that enables all the members of the VUB-community to grow, so they can successfully take up their roles in the world of today and tomorrow.


Erasmus MC stands for excellent healthcare in all phases of life. Innovative research, education and care approaches in all healthcare disciplines improve the health of the population and support the quality of life and wellbeing of our patients and their families.


King’s College London (KCL) is one of the top ten Universities in the world (QS World University Rankings, 2018/19).  KCL attracts the best clinical academics to pioneer world-leading advances in health and well-being. KCL is part of King’s Health Partners, an Academic Health Sciences Centre (AHSC) that is a pioneering global collaboration translating cutting-edge research and existing best practice into excellent patient care. The Cicely Saunders Institute (CSI) is the first purpose-built institute for research into palliative care. The mission of the CSI is to pioneer the very best in palliative care and rehabilitation by integrating: cutting edge research, skilled multi-professional care, and innovation in engagement and education.


Queen’s University Belfast is ranked in the top one per cent of universities in the world (QS World Rankings 2018 / webometrics.info) and is part of the Russell Group of universities, combining excellence in research and education with a student-centred ethos. Queen’s is ranked 8th in the UK for Research Intensity with over 75% of its research assessed as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’ in REF 2014 and is one of the UK’s leading institutions for research commercialisation.


Ghent University is a top 100 university and one of the major universities in Belgium. It has 11 faculties, and more than 100 departments, which offer a wide range of courses and conduct in-depth research within a wide range of scientific domains. Ghent University is a socially committed and pluralistic university that is open to all students, regardless of their ideological, political, cultural or social background.


The organization includes a 900 beds public hospital and five smaller hospitals. In 2011, it was acknowledged as a Research Institute in the discipline of oncology and accredited as a Clinical Cancer Centre by the Organization of European Cancer Institutes (OECI). The Clinical Cancer Center comprises an Oncology Department, with a dedicated Palliative Care and a Psycho-oncology Unit. Cancer patients are followed along their care pathway in close collaboration with the local home care service. Two hospices are also available, admitting advanced patients with complex palliative care needs.


With its 5,000 researchers and 39,000 students, the University of Copenhagen boasts an international research and study environment and is highly ranked on the leading ranking lists of the world’s best universities. The University offers researchers and students the opportunity to develop their talent and launches ambitious interdisciplinary initiatives to support its strong academic communities. Through research-based teaching – and by involving them in research – students are equipped to address society’s challenges and needs.


Trinity is the highest ranked and oldest university in Ireland, with a proud tradition stretching back to its foundation in 1592. It is home to 17,000 undergraduate and postgraduate students across all the major disciplines in the arts and humanities, and in business, law, engineering, science, and health sciences.  Trinity’s tradition of independent intellectual inquiry has produced some of the world’s most original minds including Oscar Wilde, Samuel Beckett, Ernest Walton, Edmund Burke, and Mary Robinson. This tradition finds expression today in a campus culture of scholarship, innovation, creativity, entrepreneurship and dedication to societal reform.


University College Dublin with 30,000 students from more than 125 countries worldwide was established in 1854 and was founded on the educational principles of its first Rector, John Henry Newman. The University seeks to contribute to the economy and society through the excellence and impact of its research, innovation and scholarship, the quality of its graduates and through its engagement nationally and internationally.


Recognised by the Council of Europe and with a focus on lobbying and advocacy through education, the EAPC provides a forum for all of those either working, or with an interest in palliative care throughout Europe and beyond. Currently the EAPC represents 59 member associations from 33 European countries and also has individual members from 52 countries globally.  Members are engaged in palliative care across the lifespan from a range of perspectives: specialist and generalist clinical practice, education, professional groups, policy and research.  The EAPC is respectful of the cultural and political diversity of our members and aims to speak with ‘one voice and one vision’ on matters that are important in palliative care.  The EAPC lobbies and advocates for the development of palliative care through its activities and through its work in developing the practice of palliative care. The EAPC is a partner is several EU-funded research projects as a dissemination partner.


European Cancer Patient Coalition (ECPC) is the largest European cancer patients’ umbrella organisation. Established in 2003 with over 450 members, the ECPC is the voice of the European cancer community, uniquely representing the interests of all cancer patient groups, from the most common to the rarest forms of cancer.