Communication with older patients – PhD defense Sifra Bolle

Published on October 29th 2018 – In her dissertation, Sifra Bolle covers two recent developments that play a role in the context of the consultation with older (cancer) patients: 1) the potential of internet usage by older patients and 2) the decision-making process about the treatment of older patients during multidisciplinary team meetings. The first development plays an increasing role in the domain of the patient, since more and more older patients use the Internet to find information on their disease and/or to prepare for their consultation. The first study in Bolle’s dissertation, a systematic literature review, shows that online health information tools are effective in improving several outcomes such as knowledge and even clinical outcomes such as blood pressure. However, it was not possible to retrieve the active ingredients of these effective online health information tools. Therefore, Sifra Bolle continued her research by studying how older cancer patients and their partners use and evaluate existing websites. With the results of this study she has made recommendations to develop online health information tools for older cancer patients that account for age-related characteristics of patients and their preferences.

The second development is related to the input healthcare providers bring to the table. They communicate with each other during multidisciplinary team meetings to make treatment decisions for their patients. The recent development is related to the participation of geriatric experts during these meetings. They can act as advocates for older cancer patients. Bolle found, however, that there was only limited contribution of geriatric experts to the decision making process during the multidisciplinary team meetings. Moreover, age-related patient characteristics and patient preferences were often left out of the discussion.

The results of the studies in this dissertation suggest that both for online health information provision as for multidisciplinary decision making it is highly important to take individual preferences and age-related characteristics into account.

The dissertation is supervised by Prof. Dr. Julia van Weert (ACHC), Prof. Dr. Ellen Smets, and Prof. Dr. Eugène Loos, and financed by the Dutch Cancer Society and ASCoR.

The defense of the dissertation titled ‘Aging in modern times: Geriatric perspectives on online information provision and multidisciplinary decsion making for patients’, will take place on October 31th, at 2.00pm at the Agnietenkapel of the University of Amsterdam.

Link to the digital version of the dissertation: