The diagnosis of advanced, incurable cancer at different stages of the adult life span holds
a variety of meanings for family members who often must play critical roles in patient care
and decision-making. Family caregivers are greatly affected by the diagnosis and treatment
of late-stage cancer in a loved one and may find it difficult to meet the demands of taking
care of their loved one through end-of-life care and taking care of their own well-being.
This grant provides funding to examine processes and outcomes of the intervention for family
caregivers of advanced cancer patients.
We are testing a coping and communication support (CCS) intervention for advanced stage
cancer patients and their family caregivers over the period when goals of care may shift,
i.e. beginning shortly after diagnosis. This randomized clinical trial is being conducted in
two urban tertiary cancer clinics that reach patients and families in low income and diverse
underserved populations: the Louis Stokes Cleveland VAMC and MetroHealth Medical Center.
Recruitment and randomization are based on patient's diagnosis and age. The patient had to
have been diagnosed with a stage IV cancer within a year of enrollment and they must fall
into one of two age groups: middle-aged (ages 40-60); or older (61 and older). Patients are
stratified by age group and then randomized to usual care or CCS intervention. Family
care-givers are randomized along with the patient. Trained clinical nurse specialists with
advanced training in mental health serve as CCS practitioners. They are available to
patients and family caregivers on a 24/7 basis to assist with coping and communication
challenges as they may arise. The primary goal of this project is to examine main effects of
the intervention and patient age group interaction effects of the CCS intervention on
perspectives and well-being of family caregivers during advanced cancer care and in
- Patients diagnosed within 1 year with advanced cancer (stage IV), aged 40 years or
- Patients must be cognitively intact at time of enrollment.
- Patient need not have family care-giver to be enrolled, but if there is one, FCG is
enrolled with the patient. FCG need not be 40 years of age.
- Less than stage IV cancer, stage IV cancer diagnosed over 1 year previously or younger
than 40 years of age.
Julia Rose, PhD MA
Louis Stokes VA Medical Center, Cleveland, OH