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The Project

Dyadic Psychoeducational Interventions for people with Advanced cancer and their Informal Caregivers (DIAdIC) is a transdisciplinary, cross-national research project funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme. A diagnosis of advanced cancer has an impact on the person with the disease as well as the family caregiver. Good psychosocial and educational support can make a big difference and improve the quality of life of both. This international project will provide the needed evidence about the effectiveness of such interventions in different European countries.

“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 the level of psychosocial and educational support that professional caregivers such as physicians and nurses can provide. By supporting the dyad in their own home, we expect to have an important impact on improving families’ well-being.”

– DIAdIC Coordinator, Prof Joachim Cohen

The DIAdIC project will develop and evaluate two different psychoeducational interventions for the person with cancer and the family caregiver together (i.e. the dyad). Both interventions are tailored to the needs of the dyad and address five core areas: 

  • supporting family involvement in care
  • support outlook and meaning
  • increasing coping effectiveness to deal with stress related to the disease and caregiving
  • reducing uncertainty about the disease and treatments
  • teaching symptom management and giving confidence to handle specific tasks and problems.

The two interventions are:

  • FOCUS+, a face-to-face intervention provided in the patient-caregiver dyad’s home by a specially trained health care professional.
  • iFOCUS, a self-administered eHealth tool for patientcaregiver dyads.


Support strategy #1: FOCUS+ 

It utilises a nurse-led person-to-person approach. A specially trained nurse will have three extensive consultations with the patient-caregiver dyad, usually in the patient’s home, over the course of three months.

The study nurse plays a crucial role in developing and implementing this important intervention which will improve communication and mutuality, improve resilience, seek to develop meaning in the illness experience and improve coping skills. Nurses from six participating countries have been selected and hired to implement the FOCUS+ intervention in their home countries.

We are proud to introduce you to this crucial team:
  • Janita de Koeijer & Erika van Wijk – the Netherlands
  • Joanna Bate – The UK (London)
  • Margot Creighton – The UK (Belfast)
  • Aoife McCann, Snehal Prabhukeluskar & Nuala Hannon – Ireland
  • Charlotte Depoortere & Ann D’Olieslager – Belgium
  • Isabella Elise Pedersen & Marlene Lund Nielsen – Denmark
  • Silvia Zini, Stefania Tortella, Chiara Puglisi & Federica Sforacchi – Italy
To provide the DIAdIC Nurses with the knowledge and skills to deliver the face-to-face FOCUS+ intervention, the DIAdIC Study Training Team developed a comprehensive training package. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the training has been re-designed and delivered via an e-learning platform that made it possible for the study nurses to access training online within their own countries. Based on the training programme a subsequent Community of Practice Programme has been developed and introduced to the nurses from all participating countries, allowing them to meet on a regular basis and exchange knowledge and experiences with each other and the training team.
The excellent DIAdIC Study Training Team consists of researchers from Queen’s University Belfast – Prof. Kevin Brazil and Dr. David Scott, a project consultant – Professor Laurel Northouse and her colleagues from the University of Michigan – Bonnie Dockham, Julie Walker and Ann Schafenacker.

Support strategy #2: iFOCUS

This strategy provides the person with cancer and the family caregiver access to four online (web-based) sessions over a period of three months. The option of delivering a psycho-social intervention via a computer programme fits well in the era of telemedicine. The importance of providing support remotely has been highlighted during the COVID-19 pandemic. Ultimately, this type of intervention may even prove to be more cost-effective.


How did the idea for DIAdIC start?

A small group of palliative care researchers led by Professor Peter Hudson (Australia) and Professor Joachim Cohen (Belgium) identified an opportunity via EU/Horizon 2020 to submit a proposal focused on improving the wellbeing of advanced cancer patients and their family caregivers. The research  builds on the work of Professor Laurel Northouse and her team at the University of Michigan School of Nursing who developed the original FOCUS intervention. For FOCUS+ and iFOCUS a number of adaptations have been made to ensure that the interventions are more relevant to the European context and the health care environments of the six participating countries.


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