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Valuable Patient Insights for New Oncology Therapies

We conducted a breakthrough study on the nutritional journeys of Chinese oncology patients, offering valuable insights for the development of advanced therapies.


A leading global pharmaceutical company wanted to uncover oncology patient insights on nutrition to help in the development of future medicines and therapies. The company was particularly interested in lung, gastric and esophagus cancers, and how patients’ nutritional journeys and their nutritional choices are shaped in the progressive stages of their treatment and disease. Our client sought a patient study that would identify key touchpoints, as well as healthcare professional (HCP) influence on patient decision making, throughout the entire treatment journey.

Three challenges existed to accomplishing this goal. First, there was a need to recruit oncology patients in different treatment stages, especially those in post-surgery or receiving chemotherapy or radiotherapy treatment. Second, patients self-recalling and reporting daily medication and nutritional food intake sometimes have bias or a misunderstanding of tasks, especially for elderly patients, and emotional needs are difficult to describe through words alone. Third, patients’ nutritional journeys and treatment journeys are often tangled together and there’s a need for clarity to refine and measure future product opportunities.


Cerner Enviza proposed a mixed research methodology, including home observation and in-depth interviews, field work with discussion groups, and a quantitative survey, as well as partnerships with local oncology patient associations to support patient recruitment. To eliminate information recall bias and foster a better understanding of patient life, we designed a home observation platform. Through this tactic, we achieved a better understanding of patients’ nutritional considerations and practices, as well as unspoken factors that shape patient behavior. Furthermore, through patients’ photos and videos of their daily lives – including meals, medications and nutritional foods, and communications and activities – and patient one-day nutritional diaries, we were able to accurately calculate nutritional content and find gaps between patients’ subjective claims and their objective nutritional condition. Finally, to reach a true understanding of patients’ emotional needs, we used a number of projective techniques including the blob tree – a test that recognizes and strengthens emotions – that made it easier for patients to present their true feelings.


Results were excellent. The research results map expressed valuable details of today’s Chinese oncology patients’ nutritional journeys and needs.


The results will help our client to design better products and optimize their patient promotional strategies through patient-centric logic. Through our use of classic market research methodology, coupled with a unique framework design, we helped our client to achieve their business goals.