Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States. Recommended screening programs for colorectal cancer can lead to earlier detection and improved health outcomes. An estimated 60% or more of African American adults aged 50+ have not had the recommended screenings. Later diagnosis and an advanced stage of the disease at the time of diagnosis are likely contributing factors to the elevated mortality risks and shorter survival suffered by African Americans. Brittain’s research focuses on identifying the factors that affect the colorectal cancer screening decision making process in the African American community. The long-term goal of her research is to develop interventions to enhance the decision making models for appropriate colorectal cancer screenings, thereby increasing screening guideline adherence, early detection, and improved health outcomes.
As oral cancer therapies are being developed and used more frequently - continued treatment for the prescribed duration and adherence to prescribed medications has been a challenge to patient cancer care management. A pioneer in oncology nursing, Given has successfully obtained funding from the National Institutes of Health for more than 30 years. Throughout her nursing research career she has focused on long-term cancer care, family home care and cancer care/intervention. Given’s current intervention aims to enhance an automated telephone symptom monitoring system by helping chemotherapy patients self-manage the severity of their symptoms from home. When patients experience severe symptoms, they call the system, which immediately downloads a report into the patient’s electronic medical record. The oncology clinic is then informed of the patient’s condition for an immediate medical intervention. The research will identify how nurses can be more effective in managing patient adherence and symptom management.
Cancer patients with diabetes have higher mortality rates and are more likely to be hospitalized while receiving treatment for their cancer. Hershey’s research focuses on the relationship between cancer and diabetes self-management in adults age 50 or older that are undergoing chemotherapy. Hershey’s research has shown that diabetes patients with cancer will prioritize caring for their cancer over their diabetes. Patients who do this may be more likely to suffer from malgylcemia (hypo or hyper) which may contribute to the higher mortality and complication rates of cancer patients with diabetes. Further research addressing the relationship between diabetes and cancer needs to be developed. The long-term goal of Hershey’s research is to raise awareness among patients and providers about the relationship between diabetes and cancer and to also improve quality of life, physical function, mental health, symptom management, and survivorship for diabetic patients with cancer.
Cancer-related fatigue (CRF), a common side effect of cancer and its treatment, has a profound effect on patients’ quality of life and physical functioning. Currently, a self-management CRF intervention does not exist for lung cancer patients during the critical transition from the hospital to the home. Hoffman’s research focuses on optimizing the self management of CRF for persons with non-small cell lung cancer through a home-based exercise intervention program that builds on patient’s self-efficacy to reduce CRF and augment rehabilitation. The long-term goal of Hoffman’s research is to develop efficacy enhancing interventions to improve symptom management and functional status of lung cancer patients.
Individuals treated for lung cancer report higher illness burden, lower quality of life, and higher psychological distress compared with survivors of other cancers. Lehto’s early work identified that severe worry in individuals facing a suspected lung cancer diagnosis was associated with the development of negative and threatening contents in their cognitive representations of illness and adaptive outcomes to cancer. Her subsequent pilot work examined structural characteristics associated with severe worry. Dr. Lehto aims to further test and refine her conceptual framework, evaluate behavioral outcomes, and develop and test a theoretically grounded cognitive-behavioral intervention program to help the vulnerable survivors of lung cancer to reduce their worry.
Over the past decade, the use of oral chemotherapy has shifted oncology care from a controlled and monitored process in hospitals or clinics to the patient’s home. Cancer patients receiving treatment at home are more likely to have difficulty adhering to medication regimens. This presents a significant barrier to effective treatment and may result in impaired health outcomes and advanced disease progression. Spoelstra’s research studies the mechanisms of adherence in order to address clinician’s need for efficient means to monitor adherence, guide patient self-management of symptoms, and assure therapeutic doses are attained.
Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related death among women. African American women diagnosed with breast cancer suffer from higher mortality rates than other ethnic groups while African American breast cancer survivors report lower physical functioning, general health, and quality of life. Talley’s research aims to identify factors associated with the decline in functional status and quality of life of older African American breast cancer survivors. The long-term goal of her research is to develop an intervention designed to meet the needs of older breast cancer survivors in an effort to improve functional status and quality of life.
Breast cancer is the second most common cancer among American women. Dr. Wyatt’s research is testing complementary therapy interventions, such as reflexology and acupressure, to help improve the quality of life and functional status of women undergoing chemotherapy for late-stage breast cancer. For example, a complementary therapy intervention that was shown to improve shortness of breath in turn helped patients to be better able to perform physical activities such as carrying a bag of groceries. The long-term goal of her research is to enhance the system of cancer care through the integration of conventional care and scientifically-based complementary therapies and supportive care measures that reduce symptoms or increase functional status for women with breast cancer.