Dr. Mary Bussell: Nature of our research promotes interaction between countries to help each other to improve lung cancer treatment

Doctor Mary Bussell of The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) participated on Croatian Workshop on Lung Cancer in Europe held in Zagreb on Monday.  The comparative analysis of lung cancer policies across Europe conducted by the EIU is an important step to prevention of cancer. Lung cancer afflictis 3,000 Croats annually why it is important Croatia will be part of the study’s second wave which results will be published in the beginning of 2020.
Dr. Mary Bussell

The author is associate in Economist Intelligence Unit. Opinions expressed in this article are personal opinions of the author and do not represent the position of Euractiv.hr.


Despite important progress in recent years, lung cancer remains amongst the most deadly types of cancer with a high disease burden and variability in medical need. Cancer is a worldwide health problem and a major public health challenge, causing a drain on human and economic resources for countries at all levels of development. The second leading cause of death globally, cancer results in 1 in 6 deaths around the world. Lung cancer is responsible for 1 in 5 of those cancer deaths in Europe in spite of being a largely preventable disease. Survival rates are not encouraging and vary significantly: in most of Europe, five-year survival rates for lung cancer range from 10 to 19%. In the past, these poor outcomes stemmed from a number of factors ranging from late diagnosis, poor access to treatment and inadequate supportive care. With new treatment options, it is important to develop a clear understanding of the current picture of disease burden, understand and address unmet needs, and improve the capacity within health systems to manage demand.

The Economist Intelligence Unit (The EIU) is conducting research with the aim of exploring how differing policy environments among countries may partially drive the variation in lung cancer outcomes. The research is designed to inform policymakers, public health authorities and society as a whole about the most urgent issues in the field of lung cancer and how to address them. When complete, we will have studied a total of 36 countries: 26 European countries plus Israel and 9 countries in the Asia-Pacific region.

Our research in Europe has been in two phases, as illustrated below.

2 phases of The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) study for lung cancer

BREATHING IN A NEW ERA: a comparative analysis of lung cancer policies in Europe (available on: Europe lung cancer policy analysis) was launched at IASLC World Conference on Lung Cancer held in Barcelona on 10 September 2019. This report covers the first phase of our research centring on eleven countries. Five key areas were identified to extend survival and improve quality of life for patients living with lung cancer and individual country profiles proposed opportunities for improvement for each country. Ultimately, our research will result in a report covering the second phase of research which will be an impactful resource for policy development supporting efforts for better diagnosis, referral, testing, treatment and care for people with lung cancer and will provide positive steps that can be taken for improvement. The purpose of a cross-national comparative analysis is to be able to collect information on each country in a methodologically standardised way to enable countries to benchmark themselves and to learn best practices from each other.

Our work has involved several stages. We started with a pragmatic review of the literature which enabled the creation of a framework for the development of our scorecard. This was followed by a pan-European expert panel meeting providing us with an opportunity to refine our thinking. Subsequent to these two milestones, we embarked upon data gathering. The scorecard is composed of 17 indicators which are organised within 5 domains. Country profiles provide a context for analysing the results of the scorecard. Each country profile provides an opportunity to explore a country’s policy responses in greater detail by incorporating an:

  • epidemiological burden of lung cancer
  • analysis of scorecard indicators
  • identification and description of opportunities for improvement

The country profiles are also used to triangulate and validate the findings within the scorecard.

The country-based workshops are central to the development and finalisation of each country’s profile, providing key insights into the internal nuances and challenges within each country. At each workshop, we present our initial findings before having an open discussion with the participants in order to refine our understanding of the issues at the country level and hone in on opportunities for improvement specific to the country. These meetings allow us to understand the particular variations that occur within a country’s borders and provide us with a clearer picture of the current reality. The open discussions on barriers to change and what steps can be taken to facilitate an improvement in under-performing areas held during each workshop have been very powerful. This month we embarked on the country-based workshops for the second phase of our European research. The workshop in Croatia is being held today, 23 September.

No single country in our study performs perfectly across all of the domains and no domain scores highly across all countries. So, there is room for improvement. The comparative nature of this research promotes interaction between countries helping each to improve based on experiences of others. For example, Norway launched the INSPIRE programme earlier this year and France will launch its Health Data Hub later this autumn. Both programmes have been developed to improve the quality of data gathered.  The INSPIRE programme focuses on the gathering of lung cancer data. The Health Data Hub is a unique health database in which a digital patient identity will be developed by matching biologic and behavioral data to provide diagnostic assistance or monitor therapeutic progress. Sharing experiences and best practices within and between countries can build more resilient approaches to improve outcomes for lung cancer patients everywhere.

We are delighted to have Croatia involved in the second phase of our research. I am thrilled to be here in Zagreb for the workshop. There are many challenges confronting Croatia and a number of opportunities for improving outcomes for lung cancer patients in your beautiful country.

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27. listopad 2020 18:01