IPN - Instituto Pedro Nunes

IPN     IPN Incubadora

Online cancer support communities


One of the major new challenges posed by the current digital society in cancer is: how to build a therapeutic social alliance/community between citizens and health providers to manage and support chronic diseases in a sustainable continuum of care in Europe? Online health communities have been proposed as an excellent potential solution because they facilitate bringing care home. This is one of the core aims of the European Cancer Commission. Currently, only a minority of cancer survivors has access to proper evidence-based health education and psychosocial care in cancer (less than 15%). The clear majority of cancer survivors (80-90%) search spontaneously in the internet information to cope with and manage cancer symptoms or to find psychosocial support. Health education and psychosocial care reduce costs in sick leaves, psychotropic medication and facilitates treatment adherence when interventions are guided for health professionals.


Oncocommun is an innovative platform to improve healthcare in cancer. This integral cancer care tool supported by the Catalan Government merge social nets, videoconference and monitoring platforms in a stepped educational and psychosocial care interventions. This holistic approach can reduce 1/3 the sick leaves and optimize the healthcare resources.


Objectives, Activities and Results expected / achieved

Expected Goals:
Oncommun expect to improve at least to 50-60% of cancer patients’ health education, quality of life, psychosocial functioning and social empowerment through our four-level stepped intervention, becoming at the end an “expert patient”.

Patients who achieve and show relevant changes in these areas will be invited to be part of “Mirror experiences mentoring” where they could help other new patients in online groups or communities. We expect 15-20 % mentors at the end of our stepped intervention. The other overall indicators of success in reaching these outcomes will comprise health, psychosocial and economic indicators. We expect early health education and psychosocial care solution with only 40- 50% of patients needs to go up to steps 3-4. Then, 40-50% patients are expected to solve problems in preventive steps, 1-2.

Use of other services will be estimated counting visits in the electronic clinic history of a sample of patients, prices of psychotropic drugs will be obtained from the "Spanish Agency for Medicines and Health Products" while the average daily price of a sick leave in Spain will be obtained from the "Naonal Instute of Stascs”. European partners will facilitate a similar estimation in their countries. A specific analysis of cost-effectiveness between Oncommun and usual psychosocial care will be carried out according to the monetary cost ratio in relation to the target results of the study: reduction of emotional distress, improvement of quality of life, facilitation of the post-traumatic growth and the reduction of return-to-work period.

Objectives Achieved:
The Oncommunities pilot, an innovative platform to improve healthcare for people with cancer. This comprehensive cancer care tool, supported by the Catalan government, will merge social networking, video conferencing and screening platforms into phased educational and psychosocial care interventions. In particular in Portugal, with the collaboration of the Portuguese Oncology Institute of Coimbra, it took place throughout 2019, with 16 participants. In 2019, most of the work involved adapting the platform to Portugal, as well as training IPOCoimbra staff, with recruitment only starting in October.

Project Reference



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IPN Investment


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EC Funding – IPN



12 Months

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Universitat de Barcelona
Fundacio Institut d'Investigació Biomèdica de Bellvitge
Instituto Pedro Nunes
Instytut Medycyny Pracy im. J. Nofera w Łodzi
Instituto Catalán de Oncologia
Instituto Português de Oncologia de Coimbra




Breast cancer;
Health knowledge management;
Health network.