Megan J. Shen, Ph.D.

Dr. Megan J. Shen Ph.D.

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Faculty Member

Megan J. Shen, Ph.D.

Associate Professor
Clinical Research Division, Fred Hutch

Mail Stop: D5-310

Dr. Megan Shen is a psychologist who studies how social psychological factors affect advanced care planning and end-of-life outcomes. Patients’ and caregivers’ social relationships, for example, influence their decision-making and planning, ultimately shaping the patient’s death. She designs communication tools and interventions that facilitate advanced care planning, especially for Latinos and others who experience health care disparities. Her goal is to help more patients near the end of life receive care that is aligned with their values and wishes.

Other Appointments & Affiliations

Adjunct Associate Professor of Population Health Sciences
Weill Cornell Medical College

Education

Baylor University, 2012, Ph.D. (Social and Experimental Psychology)

Baylor University, 2009, M.S. (Social and Experimental Psychology)

Baylor University, 2007, B.A. (summa cum laude, Psychology and French)

Research Interests

End-of-life care and advance care planning

Palliative care

Health equity

Developing communication-based interventions to improve patient outcomes among patients with advanced or serious illness

Developing easy-to-use educational tools and practical tools to explain care planning options and guide conversations around care planning

Involving family members, loved ones, and support persons into patients’ cancer care decision-making process

Current Studies

2021-2023
Project Title: A Communication-Based Intervention for Early Stage Dementia Patient-Caregiver Dyads to Increase Engagement in Advance Care Planning and Reduce Caregiver Burden
Source of Support: NIH/National Institute on Aging
Grant Type: R21 AG070501
Role: Multiple Principal Investigator
Goal: The goals of this study are to: (1) develop a communication-based intervention for Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias (ADRD) patients and caregivers that includes theoretically grounded communication strategies (e.g., acknowledgment, validation of fears) and distress management techniques (e.g., deep breathing, muscle relaxation); (2) evaluate the feasibility and acceptability of the intervention; and (3) test the preliminary efficacy of the intervention on ADRD patients’ and caregivers’ preparedness for and engagement in ACP, completion of advance directives, and understanding of disease trajectory (primary outcomes) as well as concordance on the patient’s healthcare values, perceived need for ACP, psychological distress, communication quality, and caregiver burden (secondary outcomes).

2020-2025
Project Title: Planning Advance Care Together (PACT) to Improve Engagement in Advance Care Planning among Advanced Cancer Patients
Source of Support: NIH/National Cancer Institute
Grant Type: R37 CA246703
Role: Principal Investigator
Goal: The goals of this study are to pilot test a mobile application (Planning Advance Care Together, PACT) designed to improve advanced cancer patients’ engagement in advance care planning, completion of advance directives, and receipt of goal-concordant care by integrating family members/loved ones (i.e., “caregivers”) and providers into the advance care planning decision-making process.

2018-2021
Project Title: A Communication-Based Intervention for Advanced Cancer Patient-Caregiver Dyads to Increase Engagement in Advance Care Planning and Reduce Caregiver Burden
Source of Support: NIH/National Cancer Institute
Grant Type: R21 CA224874
Role: Multiple Principal Investigator
Goal: The goals of this study are to: (1) develop a communication-based intervention to improve advanced cancer patients’ and caregivers’ prognostic understanding using communication strategies (e.g., acknowledgment, validation of fears) and distress management (e.g., deep breathing, muscle relaxation) techniques; (2) evaluate the feasibility and acceptability of the intervention among advanced cancer patients and their caregivers; and (3) test the preliminary efficacy of the intervention on patients’ and caregivers’ prognostic understanding (primary outcome); completion of DNR order, living will, and health care proxy; psychological distress; communication quality; caregiver burden; and healthcare utilization (secondary outcomes).

2017-2022
Project Title: Culturally Competent Communication Intervention to Improve Latinos’ Engagement in Advance Care Planning
Source of Support: NIH/National Cancer Institute
Grant Type: K07 CA207580
Role: Principal Investigator
Goal: This project aims to develop and pilot test (in a pilot randomized controlled trial) a culturally competent communication intervention designed to improve Latino advanced cancer patients’ engagement in advance care planning.

"I am passionate about equipping all patients who have advanced or serious illness with the information, tools, and support they need to make challenging care decisions and helping involve their family members and broader support network in this process."

— Dr. Megan Shen

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