BACKGROUND: The European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) Designated Centres (DCs) of Integrated Oncology and Palliative Care is an incentive programme established in 2003 aiming to improve the integration of oncology and palliative care services provided by oncologists and oncology centres worldwide. Currently, the ESMO DCs programme has over 250 centres accredited from 54 countries worldwide, in all six world regions.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: To evaluate how ESMO can support centres to improve programme development, education and research and vice versa what each single centre can do to improve in these areas, we developed a survey which was shared with all active centres. Two hundred and seven ESMO DCs representing 44 countries were invited to participate. We used content analysis to identify response categories using a stepwise approach. After reviewing and coding all responses to each question separately, they were placed into categories, counted and labelled.
RESULTS: Of the 207 centres that were invited to participate, 146 centres started the survey, representing 43 countries. Five overarching topics were identified. They included (i) joint events and educational activities; (ii) sharing of materials and defining common standards; (iii) sharing of experiences, scientific knowledge and expertise; (iv) research collaboration; and (v) ESMO support. Respondents were willing to support the ESMO DC community group in all topics and were also asking ESMO to support their centres in these issues in the future.
CONCLUSION: The study showed that the ESMO DCs are willing to provide support to improve education, research and programme development. They are also eager to contribute and collaborate amongst each other, but also request ESMO to offer advice and help to improve these issues in the DCs. In the future, facilitation of joint research projects and development of arenas to share experiences, educational and programme developments, and other resources are to be explored and could be offered to the DCs worldwide.