prof. Ann Van Hecke (PhD)

CRIG group leader
Ann Van Hecke

Professor (University Centre for Nursing and Midwifery, Department of Public Health and Primary Care, UGent)
Staff member (Nursing Department, Ghent University Hospital)


Research focus

Prof. Van Hecke’s research interest is in self-management in patients with chronic disorders and cancer, medication adherence in oncology, development, evaluation and implementation of advanced practice nursing roles and patient participation.
She has expertise in mixed methods research, scale development and implementation research.

Research team

Societal outreach


patient participation - self management and psychosocial support - nurse-led care models - nursing specialists - mixed methods research (quantitative/qualitative)

Experience & expertise:

I have expertise in several domains related to societal outreach:

  • self-management and psychosocial support of patients with cancer
  • care pathway development in oncology for patients on oral antitumor drugs
  • utilization of clinical nursing expert functions in oncology care
  • methodological expertise on intervention development
  • implementation research and mixed methods research
  • patient participation at the micro and meso level  

Relevant projects I have been involved in:

  • establishment of Educontact Fund (‘Educontact Fonds (link:’) organization of trainings
  • development of the Digital Onco-Platform (DOP): towards deepening and broadening. Optimization and implementation of the eHealth platform for cancer patients (supported by Foundation Against Cancer)
  • Patient Preference Study: Multiple Myeloma Treatments: investigation into shared decision making and expectations of patients and care providers (TAKEDA)
  • Psychosocial support needs of patients and their caregivers during the COVID pandemic

Current & future plans:

Projects that are ongoing or starting: 

  • CONTACT 2 study: Care path for adequate self-management in patients treated with oral anticancer drugs: implementation and evaluation study in 11 hospitals in Flanders (supported by KOTK)
  • the needs and support needs of the patient and the informal caregiver(s) in the management of the low anterior resection syndrome (LARS) and the implementation of a nurse-led care model in 4 hospitals for these patients (supported by KOTK)
  • research on nurse consultations in oncological settings: implementation conditions, impact on the team and meaning of this for patients and their environment
  • (self) management of symptom clusters by means of personalized care pathways: development of a new care model in Flanders
  • development of an intervention program to increase well-being and physical activity in patients with bladder cancer (supported by KOTK)
  • research into patient centered care in oncology in Flemish hospitals

Relevant stakeholder connections:

Direct contact with various patient associations, involved in postgraduate training, collaboration with Cédric Hèle institute

Key publications

  • Rammant E, Fonteyne V, Decaestecker K, Bultijnck R, Deforche B, Pieters R, Ost P, Verhaeghe S, Van Hecke A. Understanding physical activity behavior in patients with bladder cancer before and after radical cystectomy: a qualitative interview study. Clinical Rehabilitation, 2019. ahead of print. (PMID: 30514109)
  • Van Lancker A, Van Hecke A, Verhaeghe S, Mattheeuws M, Beeckman D. A Comparison of Symptoms in Older Hospitalised Palliative Cancer and Non-Cancer Patients: A Secondary Analysis of Two Cross-sectional Studies. BMC Geriatrics, 2018. (PMID: 29402216)
  • Belpame N., Kars M.C., Beeckman D., Decoene E., Quaghebeur M., Van Hecke A., Verhaeghe S. The 3-Phase Process in the Cancer Experience of Adolescents and Young Adults. Cancer Nursing, 2018. (PMID: 28481777)
  • Timmers L., Boons C., Verbrugghe M., van den Bemt B. J. F., Van Hecke A., Jacqueline G. Hugtenburg J. G. Supporting adherence to oral anticancer agents: clinical practice and clues to improve care provided by physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses and pharmacists. BMC Cancer, 2017. (PMID: 28187759)
  • Verbrugghe M, Timmers L, Boons C, van den Bemt B, Hugtenburg J, Van Hecke A. (2015). Adherence to oral anticancer agents: healthcare providers’ perceptions, beliefs and shared decision making in Belgium and the Netherlands. Acta Oncologica, 55 (4), 437-443. [SCI (2014) = 2.99; ranked 98/211 in Oncology]
  • Van Lancker A., Beeckman D., Verhaeghe S., Van Den Noortgate N., Van Hecke, A. Symptom clustering in hospitalised older palliative cancer patients: a cross-sectional study. International Journal of Nursing Studies, 2016. (PMID: 27294861)
  • Nierop-van Baalen, C., Grypdonck, M., Van Hecke, A., Verhaeghe, S. Hope dies last... A qualitative study into the meaning of hope for people with cancer in the palliative phase. European Journal of Cancer Care, 2016. (PMID: 27098887)
  • Van Lancker A., Beeckman D., Verhaeghe S., Van Den Noortgate N., Grypdonck M., Van Hecke A. An Instrument to Collect Data on Frequency and Intensity of Symptoms in Older Palliative Cancer Patients: a Development and Validation Study. European Journal of Oncology Nursing, 2016. (PMID: 26952677)

Contact & links