Some thoughts after the inspiring kick-off meeting of the #ECHoS project organized by AICIB – Agência de Investigação Clínica e Inovação Biomédica in Lisbon, May 3 and 4.
The #ECHoS consortium has the potential to bring the #CancerMission spirit, vision, and ambition to the Member States and at the societal level, very close to citizens. But only by understanding people’s needs and involving them in research and the immediate implementation of research results can we achieve better results than before.
We need to work together to generate and maintain a new mindset regarding cancer research, as well as the way prevention, screening, diagnosis, and treatment services are delivered to citizens and patients. Research should no longer be viewed as a luxury but as a critical part of cancer control in the 21st century.
The national hub structures must take into account the specificities of each country (or even the local or regional specificities), and cultural and social factors. Still, there will always be a common thread connecting them all, ensuring coordination, multi-directional dissemination of good practices, and continuous feedback mechanisms aimed at continuously improving quality.
We have the opportunity to generate unique, disruptive, and adaptive impact models, as they have never existed before, based on mapping, activating, and involving traditional and non-traditional stakeholders, in an approach to cancer as a societal problem.
An essential role will be played by specialists from non-traditional areas as well: social sciences and humanities, science communication, social innovators, digital media analysts, and so on.
In the complex picture of cancer, oncology research, and European and national initiatives (dozens of research projects approved by the EU in less than 2 years), we need a new type of leadership (distributed leadership; leadership as a process) to respond effectively.
Trust is a key word when considering new possible leadership models and when thinking about effective models for involving citizens in #CancerMission. It is essential to understand the mechanisms by which people’s trust is formed (in doctors, healthcare systems, decision-makers, or trust at the societal level), as well as their attitudes and perceptions of cancer, in order to create new, personalized models of communication, education, and engagement.