Trajectories of social connection and their relation with end-of-life outcomes of older people with cancer: International populationbased study and longitudinal feasibility study

Project Details


The social aspects of people’s lives, especially social connection,
have great impact on their health. However, little is known about the
trajectories of social connection towards the end of life and their link
with end-of-life outcomes. This is of particular concern for older
people with cancer, many of whom have complex and fluctuating
needs. End-of-life research has studied fragments of social
connection only, lacking theoretical underpinning and longitudinal
data. This project builds on a comprehensive theory of structure,
function and quality aspects of social connection to 1) study changes
in social connection in the last years of life of older people with
cancer and associations with symptoms and healthcare use in the
year prior to death; and 2) develop and feasibility-test a novel
longitudinal method, linking survey with routine administrative data,
to examine temporal associations between social connection and
physical, psychological and existential end-of-life outcomes and
healthcare use in older people with cancer in unstable health. The
first part uses existing population-based data from 18 European
countries. The second part develops the new method with
professional and patient stakeholders, followed by a feasibility study
with 30 patients, surveyed at baseline, 3- and 6-month follow-ups.
This project will achieve groundbreaking insights into a potential key
target for clinical care and health policy to improve well-being of older
people with cancer.
Effective start/end date1/10/2130/09/24


  • Older people with cancer
  • Social connection
  • End of life
  • Longitudinal research

Flemish discipline codes

  • Social medical sciences not elsewhere classified
  • Elderly care
  • Palliative care and end-of-life care