Dr NK Aaronson (1950) has been appointed professor by special appointment in Quality of Life of the Chronically and Terminally Ill at the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences of the Universiteit van Amsterdam (UvA). This chair has been created by the Netherlands Cancer Institute.
Neil Aaronson has worked at the Netherlands Cancer Institute since 1987, where he has been head of the Division of Psychosocial Research and Epidemiology since 1989. In addition, between 1995 and 2007, he was professor by special appointment of Psychosocial Oncology affiliated with the Medical Center of the Vrije Universiteit Medical Center (VUmc). From 1987 to 2000, he was also research director of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Amsterdam Collaborating Center for Research and Training in Methods of Assessment of Quality of Life in Relation to Health Care. Between 1987 and 1994 Aaronson was a senior researcher and senior university lecturer affiliated with the Clinical Psychology Department of the UvA. He obtained his PhD at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Before coming to the Netherlands in 1987 he held various positions including that of researcher in a foundation for research and teaching at a major healthcare institution in Los Angeles, and in the Behavioural Sciences and Health Education Department of the School of Public Health, UCLA.
In recent years, Aaronson’s work has concentrated on two major areas of focus: the development and application of methods for measuring health-related quality of life in an multicultural context, including integration of measures of quality of life in clinical trials and daily clinical practice, and the psychosocial implications of genetic testing and screening for cancer.
A structured collaboration between the Psychology Department of the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences, led by the Clinical Psychology working group, and the Netherlands Cancer Institute will result in a strengthening and broadening of the position of the chronically ill in general, and oncology in particular, in the research of the Faculty. Within this research programme, Aaronson will focus primarily on advising master’s students (participating in academic internships) and doctoral students (undergoing PhD training). He will also be involved in the instruction of students in various other contexts, such as courses and working group lectures.
Additionally, Aaronson will carry out research on the psychosocial consequences of cancer and its treatment. The research will centre on the description of the nature and seriousness of psychosocial problems which patients experience during the different stages of their illness (descriptive epidemiology), and the establishment of norms related to the psychosocial functioning of specific patient populations. His research will also focus on the identification of individual patients who need extra care, evaluation of the quality of care from the patients’ perspective, and the development of appropriate psychosocial interventions. Finally, studies will be carried out to evaluate the impact of both medical and psychosocial interventions on patients’ health-related quality of life.