Interdisciplinary Team Collaborating on $2.1-million PCORI Cancer Symptom Management Research
An interdisciplinary team of researchers and experts led by Distinguished Professor and Thompson Professor of Oncology Nursing Susan C. McMillan, PhD, ARNP, FAAN, is collaborating to study a self-care management approach to cancer symptoms through a $2.1-million award to the USF College of Nursing from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI). The study will evaluate the effectiveness of COPE (Creativity, Optimism, Planning, Expert Information), an intervention that aims to teach cancer patients management skills for improving moderate to high-intensity cancer symptoms they identify as causing distress, frequency or interference with their lives. Researchers will recruit 300 cancer center outpatients with breast, colorectal, lung and prostate cancers for the study.
Co-investigators in the project include:
Shirley N. Codada, MD
Psychiatry Physician, Moffitt Cancer Center
As a palliative care physician, Dr. Codada will work as a stakeholder and as a co-investigator on the team. She will refer patients with symptoms to the study.
William E. Haley, PhD
Professor, USF School of Aging Studies and College of Behavioral and Community Sciences
Dr. Haley will use his expertise as a clinical psychologist and a stress researcher to apply COPE intervention in a variety of populations. “Helping people with cancer adjust to the strain of chemotherapy requires expertise in both symptom management, and psychological aspects of coping with stress,” Dr. Haley said. “It’s exciting to work with a team of scholars with expertise in nursing, psychology, research methods, and health economics to conduct a project of this scope. I’m eager to do my part to help make our intervention and research evaluation state-of-the-art.”
Hongdao Meng, MPH, PhD
Associate Professor, USF School of Aging Studies and College of Behavioral and Community Sciences
Dr. Meng, who is a health economist with substantial expertise in outcomes research and economic evaluation of interventions in clinical and community settings, will lead the effort in the collection and analysis of health services utilization and costs data in this project. “The economic evaluation component of the project will provide patients, researchers, and policymakers information about the value and economic impact of the COPE intervention,” Dr. Meng said.
Brent J. Small, PhD
Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies, USF School of Aging Studies and College of Behavioral and Community Sciences
As an internationally known expert in statistical methods, Dr. Small’s role in the study is to conduct statistical analyses that are related to the primary objectives of the research study.
Cindy S. Tofthagen, PhD, ARNP, AOCNP
Assistant Professor and Concentration Director of Oncology, USF College of Nursing
During this research, Dr. Tofthagen will focus on symptoms in cancer patients and COPE intervention. “I am thrilled to participate with Dr. McMillan and the rest of her team on this study,” Dr. Tofthagen said. “COPE is a unique program that teaches problem solving skills to help patients manage side effects of cancer treatment. It has great potential to improve the quality of life of patients during chemotherapy and radiation therapy.”
As part of the PCORI requirements, three patients who are cancer survivors will also be included in the project. The patients will serve as advisory committee members during the three-year grant to give their personal input to Dr. McMillan and co-investigators about the project.
The USF College of Nursing study is one of 51 new awards by PCORI, totaling $88.6-million over three years, to fund patient-centered comparative clinical research effectiveness projects. It is part of a portfolio of projects that address PCORI’s national research priorities and will provide patients with information to help them make better informed decisions about their care.
The video below highlights remarks from Dr. McMillan about this research and the team she is working with. The video can also be viewed on the official USF College of Nursing YouTube Channel.
“Our goal is to teach cancer patients a problem-solving approach that will help them manage their own symptoms,” Dr. McMillan says in the video. “To accomplish this goal, I am working with a wonderful team of people. This isn’t just Susan McMillan’s research, but it’s the research of a team of people.”
Through the Center for Living with Chronic Illness, the USF College of Nursing focuses the research expertise of its nurse scientists, faculty and students as they collaborate on unique solutions to the nation’s leading health care problems, such as heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease and cancer.