Coaching and cancer: what?

The coaching aims to increase the employability of people with cancer by zooming into certain experiences and problems. The coach stimulates reflection, makes clear potential qualities and helps the coachee to overcome obstacles for further development. Different styles and methodologies can be used, depending on the context. The training opportunities of the coaching of people with cancer are scarce and recently set up by The Majin Foundation and Stichting tegen Kanker.

Coaching and cancer: how?

Coaching is applied during or after the cancer treatment with a multi-disciplinary approach. Among known methods are self-management, finding a new balance after illness, work continuation and career counseling. These are often combined. Coaching can be provided in any stadium of the cancer treatment. The concept of coaching needs specification however. Following questions need to be answered:

  • How to define the coaching of cancer patients during or after their treatment?
  • How does the coaching of cancer patients relate to coaching in the broader sense of meaning?
  • To what extent is this type of coaching relatable to other health professions?

We want to lay the foundations of coaching during or after a cancer treatment in the healthcare. There is little to nothing known about the possible impact of this technique on the wellbeing of the coachee. In all sources it is said that the coaching of a cancer patient during or after the treatment eases the work continuation after overcoming the illness. Efficacy and impact criteria are missing however.


We want to achieve following three objectives:

  1. Define the concept of coaching people with cancer;
  2. Position the coaching of people with cancer in the world of healthcare;
  3. Calculate the impact of coaching people with cancer.

The chair wants to establish a reliable quality label by developing measurable success factors for coaches in cancer care. The possible return on investment will be identified by e.g. health economic evaluations. Finally the chair will result in policy advices that might help ease the sustainable embedding of coaching.

Chair holder

Prof. dr. Elke Van Hoof is an academic researcher, author and keynote speaker. She's known for her enthusiastic and accessible talks on the topic of Well-being at Work. With the slogan 'Rethink stress, reshape society’, she embeds science into the workplace and society.

Elke Van Hoof is known for her evidence based approach, which she translates into best practices for employees, HR-managers, company leaders and policymakers. 'How do you turn stress into something positive?', 'How to best deal with burn-outs as a company?' and 'How to get the best out of yourself and your employees?' These are some of the critical questions that result in innovative insights.

As an academic she teaches medical health psychology and clinical psychological interventions at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel. Elke is also guest professor at the Vlerick Business School, teaches for the interuniversity educational programme 'psychodiagnostics for adults' and coordinates (2018-2020) the interuniversity educational programme of 'primary psychological care'. Finally she is an expert in the Belgian Superior Health Council and a member of the Knowledge Center for Incapacity for Work at the RIZIV. 

Prof. dr. Emmanuelle Zech (UCLouvain) and prof. dr. Lode Godderis (KU Leuven) are also involved in the research.

Type of chair

Research chair