Interview with: Mogens Groenvold, MD PhD
University of Copenhagen

Mogens Groenvold, MD PhD, ISOQOL member since the inaugural meeting in Brussels, received the Danish Cancer Society’s Honorary Award 2022 for his work for palliative care in Denmark and for improving the quality of life of cancer patients.

“After being one of the few ‘strange’ physicians starting in quality of life research in 1989 (breast cancer clinical trials),” said Dr. Groenvold, “I was invited by a colleague, Per Sjøgren, to assist in writing a new research protocol in 1998. He had been appointed to build and lead the first hospital-based palliative care service in Denmark at Bispebjerg Hospital, and was extremely busy, so I asked him why he didn’t hire me to help. He instantly asked the hospital and shortly after, I was responsible for the protocol writing, and since then I have been leading the Palliative Care Research Unit, while also working in the University of Copenhagen teaching Questionnaire Development. We had a very fruitful collaboration, and both received the award.”

In palliative care, Dr. Groenvold has been working the methodology (PRO’s), leading a number of clinical trials (all with QOL outcomes), and established the Danish Palliative Care Database, a national quality program with mandatory reporting, which covers all patients starting specialist palliative care in Denmark. They introduced the use of a PRO, EORTC QLQ-C15-PAL, as a quality indicator in 2010, and this is now a widely accepted national standard.

When asked what this award means to him, Dr. Groenvold answered, “I was very happy and honoured to receive it; it is the first time the Danish Cancer Society recognizes the area with its award. Having worked with QOL research and then palliative care for more than 30 years, I have always chosen topics, that were neglected or at least not yet widely accepted. It is still hard to draw the attention to the integration of palliative care into routine oncology and the treatment of other diseases, and I believe this award makes it a little bit easier to push the agenda.”

Dr. Groenvold initially joined ISOQOL because “very few people in Denmark had an interest in this field, so [he] looked for inspiration elsewhere – and found not only inspiration but also good friends.”

Being trained as a physician, Dr. Groenvold noted he “always felt that something important was missing – for [him] it is rewarding to elucidate how patients are affected by their disease and its treatment, and to seek to improve our ability to help them.” This is what he loves most about HRQL research.

Outside of the industry, Dr. Groenvold recently learned that dogs are born deaf, and it takes a few weeks for their ears to open. Many people may not know that at ten-years-old, Dr. Groenvold “got an after school job in the local shop selling tropical fish, birds, hamsters and guinea pigs, and was allowed to be paid in ‘natural goods’. Three years later [he] had 25 aquariums and thousands of fish in [his] tiny room and slept happily with 5-10 noisy air pumps around [him].”

The Honorary Award was presented by the Danish Cancer Society’s chairman, Helen Bernt Andersen, on 21 January 2022. Click here to learn more about the award.

This newsletter editorial represents the views of the author and does not necessarily reflect the views of ISOQOL. 

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The International Society for Quality of Life Research (ISOQOL) is a global community of researchers, clinicians, health care professionals, industry professionals, consultants, and patient research partners advancing health related quality of life research (HRQL).

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