Image courtesy of Dr. Rachel Ceballos
SEATTLE – Oct. 1, 2014 – Puget Sound-area African-American breast cancer survivors, as well as oncology professionals who treat them, are needed to participate in focus groups as part of a Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center study called Staying on Track After Recovery, or STAR.
The goal of the STAR Study, funded by a Fred Hutchinson/University of Washington Cancer Consortium Support Grant and the National Cancer Institute, is to better understand the experience of breast cancer survivors as they transition from treatment to survivorship. Ultimately, researchers hope to use the information to develop recommendations for a culturally sensitive patient-navigator program for African-American cancer survivors.
Patient navigators are trained professionals who can act as a liaison between patients and caregivers, helping them get the information they need, providing support with logistics such as making appointments and providing helpful resources, among other services.
A focus group is a group discussion in which everyone shares their knowledge and opinions about a specific topic. The STAR Study focus groups will discuss surviving cancer and receiving support. “The perspective of breast cancer patients and oncology professionals is critical to gaining a comprehensive understanding of this experience and building a sustainable support program”, said study principal investigator Rachel Ceballos, Ph.D.
“Importantly, this study idea was generated during discussions with our community consults who are passionate advocates of the African-American community. Their insights led to the identification of the transition to post-treatment survivorship and long-term effects of cancer as an unaddressed area of need,” said Ceballos, an assistant member of the Public Health Sciences Division at Fred Hutch.
Ceballos, who is also an assistant professor in the School of Public Health at the University of Washington, is the primary investigator of various studies working to build programs that support cancer survivors in the Latino and African-American communities.
Fred Hutch file
Deep community connections
Ceballos’ research emphasizes the development of culturally appropriate interventions and the inclusion of community collaboration in research. To this end, the STAR Study has a team of consultants with deep connections to the Seattle-area African-American community, including Jacci Thompson-Dodd, founder of WeSpeakLoudly, a resource for breast cancer survivors and health care professionals.
“The components of any survivorship regimen must be clearly articulated, easy to understand and culturally astute. Yet far too often, none of these essential elements are present for African-American women, and poor health outcomes can result,” Thompson-Dodd said. “The STAR Study examines this period of transition from patient to survivor in hopes of closing this gap. … Important insights are being unearthed that will inform a culturally focused navigation program especially for African-American women.”
Another community advocate and study collaborator is Bridgette Hempstead, founder of Cierra Sisters Inc., a Seattle-based African-American breast cancer organization. “I am honored to be part of this historical research that will represent the voices of African-American women and the unique needs that follow their breast cancer experience,” she said.
Other community consultants lending their connections and expertise to the study include Shauna Weatherby, a nurse practitioner in women’s health at Multicare Tacoma Women’s Specialists; behavior-science educator Edree Allen-Agbro, founder of Work Well with Others; and community advocate Arthur Walker.
Who can participate in the STAR Study?
Breast cancer survivors: The STAR Study seeks the participation of 36 African Americans over age 18 who have been diagnosed with breast cancer and have finished their cancer treatment within the past five years. (Those currently on hormonal therapy as a continuing part of their cancer treatment may still be eligible.) Participants must live and have received cancer treatment in King, Pierce, Snohomish or Thurston counties.
Oncology professionals: The study also seeks the participation of 24 certified medical professionals who work with breast cancer patients as they transition into survivorship. Experience working with African-American patients is preferred but not required. Participating oncology professionals must work in King, Pierce, Snohomish or Thurston counties and have at least one year of experience working with breast cancer patients. Examples of those eligible include medical or radiation oncologists, surgeons, naturopaths, nurses, mental-health professionals, social workers and physician assistants.
All participants will be compensated for their time with a $40 gift card and, if necessary, a small stipend for parking or public transportation. The focus groups will last about two hours and be held in a location convenient for the participants.
Editor’s note: For more information about the STAR Study, please contact Fred Hutch project coordinator Rachel Malen at 206-667-1409 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
To arrange an interview with principal investigator Rachel Ceballos or one of the study’s community consultants, please contact Kristen Woodward at 206-667-2210 or email@example.com.
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At Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, home to three Nobel laureates, interdisciplinary teams of world-renowned scientists seek new and innovative ways to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer, HIV/AIDS and other life-threatening diseases. Fred Hutch’s pioneering work in bone marrow transplantation led to the development of immunotherapy, which harnesses the power of the immune system to treat cancer with minimal side effects. An independent, nonprofit research institute based in Seattle, Fred Hutch houses the nation’s first and largest cancer prevention research program, as well as the clinical coordinating center of the Women’s Health Initiative and the international headquarters of the HIV Vaccine Trials Network. Private contributions are essential for enabling Fred Hutch scientists to explore novel research opportunities that lead to important medical breakthroughs. For more information visit www.fredhutch.org or follow Fred Hutch on Facebook, Twitter or YouTube.