Portrait of Professor Agnes van der Heide, Scientific Coordinator of ACTION

Prof. Agnes van der Heide

Scientific Coordinator of ACTION, based at Erasmus University Medical Centre in Rotterdam, the Netherlands

Research field

Palliative Care

If you like this
If you want to know more
Research Profile


“We want to help patients who are in the last stage of life to discuss painful topics”, says Agnes van der Heide. She is Professor of end of life care and decision making at Erasmus Medical Centre in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. She coordinates the ACTION project together with Dr Ida Korfage and Dr Judith Rietjens.


Advanced cancer seriously affects the quality of life of patients. Open and respectful communication about end of life care wishes is important to these patients. However, discussing these wishes is hard for healthcare professionals as well as patients and relatives. ACP may help patients to make their wishes known and followed.


Ida Korfage explains: “We study the effect of advance care planning in patients with end stage cancer. Advance care planning (ACP) is a formalised process of communication between patients, relatives and professional caregivers. It enables patients to express views, values and treatment choices about their future care."


“At least 20 hospitals in 6 countries will participate in ACTION. We plan to include 1334 patients with advanced lung or colorectal cancer. The patients will receive either ACP or ‘care as usual’. We will compare the self-reported quality of life and physical complaints of these two groups”, says Judith Rietjens.

Helping people to discuss end of life wishes

In the Picture
In the Picture
Image credits

Background image: Ryan Stone

Portrait of the project coordinator: ACTION

Timeline (in chronological order): ACTION