Family-Patient Communication and Economic Outcomes
Funding agency: National Cancer Institute
Funding period: April 2013 – March 2018

The aims of the study are to test longitudinally how cancer communication between caregivers and patients is associated with short and long-term economic, psychosocial, and healthcare outcomes, and to examine patient and family characteristics that are associated with decreased levels of cancer communication. This study interviews both patients and their caregivers a total of five times over two years, to better understand the economic and social implications of hematological cancers. Patients are recruited from Fox Chase Cancer Center and Massey Cancer Center (Richmond, VA) with the assistance of their hematology teams. Interview topics include how patients and family members talk to each other about the cancer diagnosis, decisions made about cancer treatment and how this was discussed, and decisions made about employment status.

Rates of hematological cancers are rapidly rising in the United States. These are often treatable but not curable, and often affect younger adults who are still in the workforce, creating significant financial and social burden on their family members. Poor patient-family communication has been associated with negative outcomes, such as greater struggles adjusting to illness, impaired energy, marital difficulties, and social isolation.

Research Team Contact:
Kristin Kopec

Research Partners:
Virginia Commonwealth University
Fox Chase Cancer Center

“Health research is now a team science, and we’ve come to understand how people maintain their health is complicated. It is a process between behavior, environment, genes, culture, and other factors, and we are training teams to come up with answers to some of our most complicated and pressing questions, issues, and concerns.”

- Laura A. Siminoff, Ph.D.

Today, we are an integrated college both in terms of education and research, across this spectrum of disciplines, which is not the traditional way that public health higher education institutions typically function. But if we consider where we are moving as a nation and as a field, I think this is the way to move forward and puts CPH ahead of the curve.

- Laura A. Siminoff, Ph.D.

Research Update

Dean Siminoff’s research on organ donation in review. See here for details


The SRG is hiring for a Research Associate for the Informal Caregiver Burden in Later Stage Cancer Study. Check back for updates.

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