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Integrated, cross-sectoral Psycho-oncology (isPO)

Scientific project leader of external evaluation

Prof. Dr. Holger Pfaff

Dr. Nadine Scholten

Dr. Antje Dresen

Operative project leader

Theresia Krieger, PhD

Project execution

Natalia Cecon

Sandra Salm


10/2017 - 09/2021

Funding institution

Innovation Committee (Innovationsausschuss) of the Federal Joint Committee (G-BA)

Project description

Over 420,000 people in Germany contract cancer every year. Of these, about 20% to 30% suffer from comorbid mental disorders and about 50% from anxieties and depression at the time of diagnosis and during therapy.

Although an integrated and cross-sectoral psycho-oncological care is nationally and internationally regarded as a standard, it is still not implemented in Germany.

Only 9% of 6,000 interviewed cancer patients stated that they received in-patient psycho-oncological care and 3% that they went to a cancer counselling center.

The aim of the project isPO is to develop, implement, and evaluate a psycho-oncological care programme. Therefore, structures, processes and results of care provision are described and transparently and comprehensibly documented. Quality assurance measures are conducted as well.

The specific patient-oriented goal is to reduce recurrent acute psychological stress reactions such as anxieties and depression of cancer patients within the first year after initial diagnosis. In the isPO programme, psycho-oncological care is given starting from the time of the cancer diagnosis and is provided cross-sectorally over a period of 12 months. This is done by coordinated, individualized psycho-oncological support and patient information in the conurbation of Cologne and in three rural regions in North Rhine-Westphalia. The provision of psychosocial and/or psychotherapeutic care for a cancer patient depending on his or her need is guaranteed by physician-led care networks.

As a cooperation partner in the project isPO, the IMVR conducts the independent evaluation of the care programme examining its effectiveness and quality.

The scientific monitoring is carried out as a prospective, process and outcome evaluation. Document analyses, qualitative and quantitative interviews with patients, care providers and other potential users of the isPO programme as well as analyses of health insurance data are carried out.