"It's all about trying to figure out what the right treatment for that particular survivor/caregiver dyad is," Dr. Badger said. "At the end of the study, we will be able to critically look and see, 'For a person with these characteristics, treatment A might be a better first step, and then treatment B. Whereas for a different person, it might be better to do treatment B first and then treatment A.'"
The end result, Dr. Badger hopes, will be to disseminate the study's results to change cancer care, ensuring that cancer patients and their caregivers have their symptom management and psychosocial needs met. In the long run, the impact of the interventions could be huge.
"A majority of patients prefer the flexibility of these kinds of interventions," she said. "We can work with them around their work schedule, their life schedule, to ensure they get the treatment they deserve without causing them more stress. The bottom line is that this is all about improving the care for survivors and caregivers."
The study was preceded by interdisciplinary work involving the SHINE – Symptoms, Health, INovation and Equity – group of researchers, co-founded by Dr. Badger and Chris Segrin, PhD, professor in the UA Department of Communication.
"This research is an outgrowth of a nearly 20-year collaboration among the UA colleges of Nursing and Social and Behavioral Sciences," Dr. Segrin said. "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."
The members of the SHINE Research for Cancer Survivors and Caregivers group are: Tad Pace (UA College of Nursing), Maria Figueroa (UA College of Nursing), Tracy Crane (UA College of Nursing), Terry Badger (UA College of Nursing), Alla Sikorskii (Michigan State Department of Psychiatry), Molly Hadeed (UA College of Nursing), Bettina Hofacre (UA College of Nursing), and Chris Segrin (UA Department of Communication).