Associate Professor Dr. Jennifer Doss currently heads the Oral Cancer Research & Coordinating Center (OCRCC) at the Dental Faculty, University of Malaya and leads the research team on Health-related Quality of life for oral cancer patients in Malaysia. Associate Professor Dr. Jennifer completed her Bachelor of Dental Surgery in 1987 from the University of Malaya. Following this, she went on to serve with the Ministry of Health for 14 years before joining academia. She obtained her Masters in Community Dentistry (with distinction) from the University of Malaya in 2000 and subsequently her Phd at the University of Otago, New Zealand In 2010. Her Phd project was the first Health-related Quality of Life project to focus on cross-culturally adapting and validating an instrument for oral cancer patients in Malaysia. She is also a research collaborator with the Liverpool UK QOL Head and Neck Cancer Group and is the co-chairperson for the National Oral Cancer Research Initiatives in Malaysia. Her other research interests include the psychosocial and socio-behavioral aspects of this disease including the initiation of an Oral Cancer Patient Supportive Care Program at the Dental Faculty UM in January 2017.
Synopsis of Lecture: ‘HRQOL and Oral Cancer: The Malaysian journey’
This lecture traces the research efforts undertaken throughout the Malaysian Journey with Health-related Quality of life (HRQOL) of oral cancer patients from 2005 onwards. These efforts were essentially chartered by pertinent questions regarding oral cancer sufferers; their silent burden of suffering and struggle with the impacts of their disease and treatment side effects throughout their cancer journey. A globalised HRQOL instrument was cross-culturally adapted and validated for on-going patient assessment which was incorporated into the Malaysian Oral Cancer Database and Tissue bank managed by the Oral Cancer Research and Coordinating Center (OCRCC), Dental Faculty of University of Malaya. This patient database was contributed initially by seven tertiary hospitals managing oral cancer patients throughout Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak. The subsequent arising question was whether we were routinely communicating with our patients on HRQOL issues during clinical consultation. Considering the challenges faced with HRQOL assessment using lengthy questionnaires during routine clinical practice, the Patient concerns Inventory (PCI) by Rogers et al, (2009)) was then explored, cross-culturally adapted and pilot tested. In acknowledging the evidence of our oral cancer patients’ HRQOL concerns and supportive care needs, a patient support care program was initiated in 2017. Needless to say, the patient has always been and will always be central to our research efforts. Thus, future research efforts would be directed at integrating HRQOL assessment into routine clinical practice across public hospital-based OMFS clinics which manage oral cancer patients in the country. Besides this, further strengthening the oral cancer patient support care program at the Dental faculty, University of Malaya and expanding this program to other tertiary centers in Malaysia would be an important aspiration too.