isPO – integrated, cross-sectoral Psycho-Oncology


Mid 2020

Institution(s) involved

University of Cologne, Germany House of Cancer Patient Support Associations of Germany and Cancer Society North-Rhine Westphalia, Germany

The innovative “integrated, cross-sectoral psycho-oncology” (isPO) programme offers need-driven, professional support to all adult, newly diagnosed cancer patients early in their trajectory. This comprehensive programme was recently developed, implemented and a formative evaluation was performed. Currently, isPO is offered in four hospitals in North-Rhine Westphalia, located in the west of Germany.

The isPO project pursues two primary goals: (1) reducing disease-related anxiety and depression of patients with an initial diagnosis of cancer, and (2) providing a structured psycho-oncological care programme for the comprehensive expansion and implementation in standard oncological care in Germany.

isPO is a complex intervention, containing eight components: Psycho-oncological concept, management, network development & -support, internal and external quality management, contract management (to finance the support), implementation paths and indicators, telematics (IT-supported assistance & documentation system CAPSYS2020), and external evaluation (prospective, formative and summative).

In the isPO care programme, newly diagnosed cancer patients can receive psycho-oncological care for up to 12 months. Within this year, an isPO case manager functions as a personal contact partner for the patient. Based on the patients’ distress and individual needs, adequate support is offered, which results in a stepped-care approach. Every isPO participant is offered a peer support meeting with a trained and certified person who experienced a cancer disease themselves, the so-called isPO onco-guide. Afterwards, depending on the patient’s need, they can also receive additional psychosocial support and/or psycho-oncological/psychotherapeutic treatment.

Thus, for the first time, an international, user-friendly instrument will be available with which both patients as well as service providers and researchers can assess and optimise PIM. This makes a concrete contribution to promoting the participation of patients in quality development processes in health care.