Session: Evaluating Social Work Interventions for Breast Cancer Survivors (Society for Social Work and Research 14th Annual Conference: Social Work Research: A WORLD OF POSSIBILITIES)

51 Evaluating Social Work Interventions for Breast Cancer Survivors

Cluster: Health and Disability
Symposium Organizer:

Julianne S. Oktay, PhD, University of Maryland at Baltimore

Brad J. Zebrack, PhD, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
Friday, January 15, 2010: 10:00 AM-11:45 AM
Pacific Concourse L (Hyatt Regency)
Increasing national recognition is being given to the importance of the psychosocial needs of cancer patients and their families. A recent report of the Institutes of Medicine recommends that “All patients with cancer and their families should expect and receive cancer care that insures the provision of appropriate psychosocial health services” (IOM, 2007, p1). This report also states that cancer patients are dissatisfied with their providers' attentions to their psychosocial concerns and feel that their psychosocial needs are not being met. Breast cancer remains the most common cancer diagnosed in American women, with over 180,000 new cases each year (ACS, 2009). Furthermore, with the rapid expansion in the numbers of cancer survivors (11 million survivors in the US, about 2.5 million breast cancer survivors), oncology social workers need to provide interventions that meet the needs of long-term survivors as well as those in active treatment. Rigorous social work intervention research is critical so that effective and evidence-based interventions for practice in oncology can be implemented (Association of Oncology Social Workers, 2008). This symposium advances the field of oncology social work by presenting and discussing three strong studies of social work interventions with breast cancer patients, survivors and families.

Drs. Abernethy, Smith, et al. will present an evaluation of the Pathfinders program in their report entitled: “Impact of a Psychosocial Intervention on Quality of Life (QOL) Outcomes in Cancer Patients.” “Pathfinders” are licensed clinical social workers who teach specific coping skills while activating the metastatic breast cancer patient's innate strengths to assist in navigating the cancer journey. The pilot study measures QOL and psychological distress at baseline, 3 and 6 months; results will be used to inform a randomized clinical trial of “Pathfinders”. The second paper, entitled “A 3-year Randomized Controlled Trial on the Impact of Brief Psychosocial Interventions on Breast Cancer Survivorship” by Lo, Chan, Ho, & Leung, addresses the sustainability of the effects of a brief intervention over time. Their results suggest that initial differences between different treatment modalities decrease over time. Finally, Oktay and colleagues present a mixed-method evaluation of an intervention where family-focused components are added to a “mind-body” group intervention for breast cancer survivors suffering from fatigue. This paper emphasizes how a qualitative component adds knowledge to a RCT, in which treatment-control group differences were not statistically significant. Brad Zebrack, of the University of Michigan, will serve as discussant.

The papers have a number of similarities; for example, all three programs evaluated interventions for breast cancer survivors, took place in multidisciplinary medical settings, and dealt with problems of attrition. The papers differ in interventions studied, methodology and in target populations (women with metastatic disease, long-term survivors, and patients with fatigue and their families). Each paper focuses attention on a different question about the intervention: Is it effective? Do the effects last? Does a family-focused component add to the effectiveness of a mind-body intervention? The discussant will facilitate a discussion of these similarities and differences and the state-of-the-art in intervention research in oncology social work today.

* noted as presenting author
Impact of a psychosocial intervention on quality of life outcomes in cancer patients
Amy P. Abernethy, MD, Duke University; Sophia K. Smith, PhD, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Tina Staley, MSW, Duke University; Jane L. Wheeler, MSPH, Duke University; April Coan, MS, Duke University; Krista Rowe, RN, Duke University; James E. Herndon, PhD, Duke University
A 3-Year Randomized Controlled Trial on the Impact of Brief Psychosocial Interventions on Breast Cancer Survivorship
Phyllis Lo, University of Hong Kong; Cecilia L.W. Chan, PhD, University of Hong Kong; Rainbow T.H. Ho, PhD, University of Hong Kong; Pamela P.Y. Leung, PhD, The University of Hong Kong
Mixed-methods Evaluation of a Family-Focused Mind-Body Medicine Intervention to Reduce Fatigue in Breast Cancer Survivors
Julianne S. Oktay, PhD, University of Maryland at Baltimore; Melissa H. Bellin, PhD, University of Maryland at Baltimore; Susan Scarvalone, MSW, Mercy Medical Center; Susan Appling, MS, Mercy Medical Center; Ryan MacDonald, PhD, Mercy Medical Center; Kathy Helzlsouer, MD, Mercy Medical Center
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