Developing and evaluating an ‘online value clarification tool’ (OnVaCT)

Published on March 04 2020 – Patients for whom standard anti-cancer treatment is no longer available, may be offered the choice to participate in early-phase clinical studies (experimental treatments). Liza van Lent (Erasmus MC), Julia van Weert (ASCOR) and colleagues explain in a recently published protocol paper how they will develop and evaluate an online value clarification tool (OnVaCT) to assist these patients in their decision making process.

Participating in early-phase clinical trials can offer patients reason to hope, but they generally do not benefit from participation and can risk severe side-effects. Therefore, it is important for patients to make a personal weighing to participate based on the available information and on one’s personal values. However, given the complexity of early-phase  trials, focus on medical-technical information may prevail without a clear patient-physician discussion on patient values, actual prognosis and palliative care options. Decisional conflict (feeling insecure about one’s decision), has been reported in patients after deciding on participation.

To help patients prepare for the consultation with the medical oncologist about participating in early-phase clinical trials, an OnVaCT is being developed. This tool helps patients and their relatives to explore their own values and preferences regarding difficult end-of-life decisions. By sharing these results with the medical oncologists, the consultation can be better attuned to the individual patient’s needs. This could assist the patient in taking a decision in line with their values, which might contribute to the quality of life towards end-of-life.

The research project is led by the Erasmus MC, Radboudumc and University of Amsterdam, and is conducted in the Erasmus MC, Antoni van Leeuwenhoek and UMC Utrecht. The project is financed by the Dutch Cancer Society.

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