Research on the Impact of Cancer on the Family
A review of NCI’s FY 1999 research portfolio indicated that only 18 studies focused on the impact of cancer on the family. To stimulate research on family members of cancer survivors, DCCPS provided 1- year supplement awards to NCI-funded clinical and comprehensive cancer centers. Funded studies at 10 institutions spanned the life cycle, focusing on both child and adult caregivers, and addressed multiple cancer sites including breast, colon, prostate, brain, head and neck, and pediatric cancers. Final products were produced from six of the grants, including:
- Brochures to promote prostate cancer screening.
- A workbook for terminally ill patients and their caregivers.
- Three training manuals for health care professionals for delivering unique family-focused interventions.
- Two tools for the investigator community: a standardized method for observing and coding behavioral interactions between family members, and an instrument to help assess couples’ intimacy.
In Fiscal Year 2002, one of the investigators was successfully awarded a small grant to expand upon preliminary findings derived from this supplemental funding. The grant employs a longitudinal design to assess the psychological and relationship functioning of lung cancer patients and spouses. This spin-off award exemplifies the importance of thesupplement mechanism to generate pilot data that can serve as a model for more expansive studies. The remaining nine grantees continue to be funded by NIH. There is a continuing need to develop future initiatives to understand the impact of cancer on the family and to further test interventions to alleviate the burden of cancer on family health and on psychosocial and economic well-being.