Current Projects

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Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Advanced Lung Cancer Patients and Caregivers

Lung cancer patients experience high levels of symptom interference, defined as the degree to which symptoms interfere with activities. The most frequent and severe symptoms in lung cancer patients include depression, anxiety, pain, fatigue, sleep disturbance, and breathlessness, which contribute to impaired quality of life. Family caregivers’ quality of life is also affected. Up to 50% of family caregivers of lung cancer patients experience clinically elevated anxiety or depressive symptoms. Caregiver distress has been related to greater caregiving burden. The objective of this pilot project is to test a novel telephone-delivered Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) intervention with advanced lung cancer patients and their family caregivers participating. The intervention involves an innovative application of ACT to address symptom interference in advanced lung cancer patients and caregiver burden.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Metastatic Breast Cancer Patients

Highly prevalent and distressing symptoms in metastatic breast cancer patients include depressive symptoms, anxiety, pain, fatigue, and sleep disturbance. These symptoms have been found to interfere with important activities. We developed a novel application of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) with the goal of reducing symptom interference with activities in metastatic breast cancer patients. This pilot project examines the feasibility and acceptability of our ACT intervention.

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    Other examples of ongoing projects include:

    • Developing measures of self-compassion and mindfulness for cancer patients and survivors
    • Examining psychological factors (e.g., mindfulness) that may account for the beneficial effects of a mindfulness-based intervention on cancer patients’ fatigue, sleep problems, and distress
    • Identifying components of a coping skills intervention for lung cancer patients and their family caregivers that predict symptom outcomes (e.g., anxiety, depression, pain)
    • Assessing loneliness as a key factor underlying the effects of the social environment (e.g., avoidance and criticism) on the mental health of advanced gastrointestinal cancer patients and their family caregivers
    • Examining relations between cognitive functioning and physical activity in older breast cancer survivors