Graduate studies within Medical Delta Living Lab Better In Better Out into lifestyle change and colon cancer recovery

Within the Medical Delta Living Lab Better In Better Out, graduates and students started at the beginning of February with exploratory studies in the field of lifestyle and colon cancer. The third and fourth year students of Nursing and Nutrition and Dietetics from The Hague University of Applied Sciences and Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences are working in interdisciplinary teams to investigate the possibilities for personalized lifestyle changes for colon cancer patients.

March is colon cancer month. Colon cancer is increasingly common: in 2019, more than 12,000 people in the Netherlands were diagnosed with colon or rectal cancer and nearly 5,000 people died from this form of cancer (source: IKNL). The fitter someone enters a treatment program, the greater the chance of a faster recovery. The Medical Delta Living Lab Better In Better Out focuses on developing lifestyle interventions. This is done together with people with cancer, their loved ones and healthcare professionals. E-health applications and technologies that support the lifestyle change of people with colon cancer are being researched and adapted.

Lifestyle change and SMS service

The Medical Delta Living Lab Better In Better Out offers students of universities of applied sciences the opportunity to gain experience with practice-oriented research in various phases of their education. For example, starting last September, students in the minor Oncology at The Hague University of Applied Sciences conducted research into health apps that can improve the lifestyle of colon cancer patients. These studies focused on what an app must meet to be effective.

Another group of students investigated how patients during hospital admission for an operation can be stimulated to exercise more and thus promote their recovery. This research project, in which the students conducted interviews with patients, caregivers and healthcare professionals, resulted in an SMS service that alerts people to regularly exercise during hospitalization. During the day, patients receive text messages about the importance of exercise, but also about exercises or activities they can do. This concept will be further elaborated in follow-up projects by a new group of students.

The results of these student studies serve as preliminary work for future projects that the living lab wants to start with. Medical Delta Living Lab Better In Better Out wants to further shape this interdisciplinary form of education in the future by allowing students, teachers, researchers and healthcare professionals to work together physically at labs in HMC Antoniushove and in a healthcare

Chain integration

Not only in the hospital, but also at home, people with cancer and their loved ones work together with a variety of healthcare professionals on their recovery. Technology can help in this, for example by using smart health apps. Good integration within the entire chain is also important.

“We achieve the best care for a faster recovery of people with colon cancer with, among other things, well-trained care personnel throughout the entire care chain,” says Dr. Joost van der Sijp, living lab leader, lecturer at The Hague University of Applied Sciences and surgeon-oncologist at Haaglanden Medical Centre. “Surgeons, nurses, physiotherapists, dieticians and psychologists all contribute to the care of people with cancer based on their expertise. Good cooperation is therefore necessary, both in the clinic and at the patient's home. ” By allowing the patient to go through the entire chain without obstacles and thereby bringing them in the best possible condition, both psychologically and physically, the care outcome will improve significantly, says Van der Sijp. “Apart from the cost reduction, this approach improves the care outcome and thus the quality of life. During the minors, students from different study programs work together in teams on research. This prepares them for the interdisciplinary collaboration that is required in healthcare practice. ”

The minor students and graduates will present their findings in June.