Chris Segrin, the Steve and Nancy Lynn Professor of Communication, is part of an interdisciplinary team of researchers who will develop precision interventions designed to help cancer survivors and their caregivers, thanks to two new $2.5 million grants to the UA College of Nursing from the National Cancer Institute.
Terry Badger, professor in the UA College of Nursing, is the lead principle investigator on both grants.
"This research is an outgrowth of a nearly 20-year collaboration among the UA Colleges of Nursing and Social and Behavioral Sciences," said Segrin, who is also the acting associate dean for faculty affairs and inclusion for the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences. "This research always has been aimed at developing and delivering interventions for cancer survivors and their caregivers that address the emotional and social aspects of their well-being in addition to physical symptoms. These current projects will advance the precision delivery of these interventions."
Interventions for Cancer Survivors
The first $2.5 million grant is for the study “Post-chemotherapy Symptom Management: Testing Intervention Sequences in a SMART Design.”
Nearly 15.5 million American cancer survivors have experienced symptoms from cancer treatment that negatively impact their quality of life, according to the American Cancer Society. Although numerous symptom-management interventions have been tested during cancer treatment, few have addressed the continuing fatigue, pain, depression, anxiety, insomnia and other symptoms that continue after treatment has ended.
This four-year study will investigate the effectiveness of a Symptom Management and Survivorship Handbook (available in English and Spanish) and telephone interpersonal counseling interventions for managing symptoms in cancer survivors at the end of chemotherapy.
"Thanks to this research, in the future we will be able to offer the right intervention, in the right dose, at the right time to our cancer survivors so that post-treatment symptoms can be reduced and healing hastened with these supportive interventions," Badger said.
Including Caregivers when Delivering Precision Interventions
The second $2.5 million grant is for the study “Improving Informal Caregivers' and Cancer Survivors' Psychological Distress, Symptom Management and Health Care Use.”
This four-year study will investigate the effectiveness of the handbook and telephone counseling for managing quality of life for both cancer survivors and their caregivers. This study will also investigation the most effective sequencing of intervention delivery to improve physical, psychological, and social well-being during cancer treatment.
“Traditionally and understandably, quality of life management in cancer patients has been focused on the patients themselves,” Segrin said. “However, recently clinicians and researchers are beginning to understand the enormous toll this illness takes on family caregivers. This is why the delivery of interventions to caregivers has vital importance for their own wellness, and indirectly, for the wellness of the patients through the enhanced capacity of their caregivers.”
SHINE Research Group
Badger and Segrin developed the telephone interpersonal counseling intervention for cancer patients and their partners/caregivers, combining elements of interpersonal counseling and cancer education. Over the years, the intervention has been delivered to 400 cancer patients and caregivers and is available in English and Spanish.
The duo also started the SHINE (Symptoms, Health, INovation and Equity) Research for Cancer Survivors and Caregivers group, which today includes Tracy Crane, Maria Figueroa, Molly Hadeed, Bettina Hofacre, and Tad Pace, all with the UA College of Nursing, and Alla Sikorskii from Michigan State’s Department of Psychiatry.
The SHINE group recently finished a five-year study funded by the American Cancer Society to test interventions for Latinas with breast cancer and their family caregivers.
“One of the main purposes of this research is to make practical and effective evidence-based interventions available to underserved populations to help reduce health disparities,” Segrin said.
Story includes content from the UA College of Nursing press releases.