NCI Funds Ohio State Breast Cancer Intervention Training

November 18, 2011
NCI Funds Ohio State Breast Cancer Intervention Training Barbara Anderson

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Barbara Andersen, a professor of psychology and researcher at the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James), has received a $1.6 million grant from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to train mental health care professionals in a biobehavioral intervention to help cancer patients cope with the stresses of diagnosis and treatment.

Andersen and a group of collaborators developed the intervention, which culminates more than a decade of research evaluating the benefits of psychological counseling and support for cancer survivors. Andersen previously published studies in 2008, 2009 and 2010 showing the benefits of psychological intervention.

"We took this move to widely disseminate the intervention with the goal to increase the pool of mental health care providers who understand the needs of cancer patients and adopt evidence-supported psychological treatments to help them," Andersen says. "This program builds on our clinical experience with patients, our research findings, and our over arching aim to improve the lives of those diagnosed and struggling with the challenges of cancer."

The NCI has designated supportive care and quality of life issues as health priority areas for breast cancer survivors. Until recently, a lack of proven treatments that produce psychosocial and health benefits and a lack of training in these treatments prevented progress.

Andersen's grant will fund eight, three-day training sessions at Ohio State for health care professionals, including psychologists, mental health nurses, and clinical social workers who currently provide supportive care to cancer patients, with the curriculum focusing on biobehavioral intervention. Andersen's work has shown that when this biobehavioral intervention was delivered to breast cancer patients, it reduced their emotional distress, and improved their health behaviors such as diet, their adherence to chemotherapy and their health and immunity.

Long term follow up data showed that the patients randomized to receive the intervention had a reduced risk for recurrence and death from breast cancer. Components of the treatment include stress reduction, problem solving, improving one's diet, increasing physical activity, and others.

The first biobehavioral institute will be held in June 2012 at Ohio State, with applications being accepted in early spring. As many as 320 psychologists, social workers, and mental health clinical nurse specialists will be trained over the next five years.

The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute strives to create a cancer-free world by integrating scientific research with excellence in education and patient-centered care, a strategy that leads to better methods of prevention, detection and treatment. Ohio State is one of only 41 National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers and one of only seven centers funded by the NCI to conduct both phase I and phase II clinical trials. The NCI recently rated Ohio State's cancer program as "exceptional," the highest rating given by NCI survey teams. As the cancer program's 210-bed adult patient-care component, The James is a "Top Hospital" as named by the Leapfrog Group and one of the top 20 cancer hospitals in the nation as ranked by U.S. News & World Report.


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