Un Abrazo Intervention May Help Address Distress, Anxiety, and Depression in Cancer Co-Survivors

Dr. Catherine Marshall’s latest publication makes the case for adding interventions like Un Abrazo Para La Familia™ to the standard of care. Data show it may improve access to mental health care and help support vulnerable and underserved populations.

Family caregivers, or cancer co-survivors, are unpaid volunteers who spend time and energy caring for and fearing for a loved one undergoing cancer treatment (a cancer survivor). There are approximately 2.8 million people providing this type of informal care in the United States. A caregiver may work closely with cancer care clinical teams, administer drugs, report any concerns on behalf of the patient, manage health insurance claims, and keep other family members informed of the patient’s condition. Many who have taken up this role have reported lacking resources or support. Reports show that rates of depression for cancer patients and their loved ones is approximately twice as high as for people who live in the same communities. Caregiving is often characterized as a public health crisis.

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Supportive Cancer Care Models and Equity – Reaching the Underserved through Telehealth


The world has changed significantly over the past year, but the needs of vulnerable and underserved patients remain as urgent as ever. Supportive care interventions aim to prevent and treat physical, psychological, social, and spiritual problems related to cancer. Alliance program partners are improving the quality of life of vulnerable and underserved persons with cancer through supportive care programs that aim to address their psychosocial concerns and reduce barriers to care. As many clinical centers around the country have had to increase their reliance on telehealth to deliver safe cancer care, the Alliance sites, too, have been working to adapt to the new world order.

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Improving Access to Cancer Clinical Trial Programs in Massachusetts

In the era of precision medicine and molecular oncology, persons with cancer are gaining access to increasingly advanced forms of treatment. However, while some may be able to benefit from this cutting-edge clinical innovation, many underserved patients are still struggling to receive care. A new law in Massachusetts is set to eliminate a major financial barrier to accessing clinical trials. Lawmakers, health care practitioners, and other stakeholders behind the measure hope that the provision contained in the health care bill “promoting a resilient health care system that puts patients first” will increase access to care for all, regardless of their sex, age, race, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status.

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The University of Arizona Presents a Successful Training Model to Reduce Implicit Bias in Medical Students

Controlling the expression of implicit bias in a clinical setting is a very complex balancing act. Physicians need to rely on categorizations based on age, gender, race, and ethnicity when formulating a diagnosis. Once these biases are activated, physicians need to then “individuate” the patient, developing personalized treatment recommendations and engaging in patient-centered dialogue. It is essential to design highly customized education programs and to begin training as early as possible.

Implicit bias is a manifestation of prejudice deriving from thoughts and feelings generated outside of an individual’s conscious awareness. These automatic judgments can be especially dangerous in a clinical setting, where they may be contributing to the health care disparities often experienced by vulnerable and underserved patient populations. A new publication from the University of Arizona presents a promising approach to reducing implicit bias in medical trainees. Alliance to Advance Patient-Centered Cancer Care Investigator Dr. Jeff Stone and his colleagues developed and tested an intervention aimed at reducing the stereotyping of Hispanic patients as medically non-compliant. The term refers to a patient’s unwillingness to follow treatment recommendations or take medications as prescribed. Studies show that physician implicit bias may influence treatment recommendations: one study found that African American patients were significantly less likely to receive a recommendation for thrombolytic drugs to treat myocardial infarctions compared to their white counterparts.

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Patient Navigation and Health Care Delivery for Underserved Breast Cancer Patients: a New Approach from the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

The article published on the JCO Oncology Practice offers a novel approach to incorporating patient navigation services into larger health systems. Dr. Melissa Simon of the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and her team describe their process of utilizing data derived from their breast cancer patient navigation program to systematically improve care delivery for the vulnerable populations they aim to serve.

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Cancer Care and Health Equity in the COVID-19 Era

A new Alliance to Advance Patient-Centered Cancer Care Webinar

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many health care systems to alter the way they provide services to their communities, embracing substantial changes to their clinical practice. With institutions considering making some of these changes permanent, it is essential to reflect on the implications for vulnerable and underserved patient
populations. How will they fare navigating a new system of care increasingly centered on technology and remote services?

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New Paper from the University of Arizona Examines Financial Toxicity, Quality of Life for Cancer Survivors

A new study from Alliance to Advance Patient-Centered Cancer Care program partner, the University of Arizona, dives into financial vulnerability for cancer patients with health insurance, aiming to better understand how health behaviors and psychosocial concerns may be associated with financial burden. Elizabeth Ver Hoeve, MA, from the Department of Psychology at the University of Arizona, is the lead author of the paper, “Patient-Reported Financial Toxicity, Quality of life, and Health Behaviors in Insured US Cancer Survivors,” which was recently published in the journal Supportive Care in Cancer.

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Improving Patient-Provider Communication in the Era of COVID-19

Dr. Debra Roter, Johns Hopkins University Distinguished Service Professor in the Department of Health, Behavior, and Society at the Bloomberg School of Public Health, has been working with her team to adapt the intervention so that it can be delivered remotely. All changes will make it much more convenient for patients to participate.

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought many dramatic changes to our everyday life. As millions of Americans have opted to stay at home as much as possible, clinical practices have been expanding telemedicine efforts to reduce the risk of transmission, interacting with patients remotely via technology such as cell phones and other communication applications. While telemedicine has been available for many years, the use of these services has dramatically increased this year. The Cleveland Clinic recently reported logging more than 60,000 telemedicine visits in March. Before the global pandemic, it averaged about 3,400 virtual visits per month.

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The Evolution of Un Abrazo Para La Familia: Implications for Survivors of Cancer

In a follow-up to their previous publication Oregon’s Familias en Acción replicates benefits for underserved cancer co-survivors through Un Abrazo Para la Familia, the team at the University of Arizona have expanded their Un Abrazo Para La Familia intervention to recruit and deliver the supportive care program to care recipients themselves.

While Abrazo was originally designed to help co-survivors cope with a loved one’s cancer diagnosis, the intervention team decided to expand the program to care recipients themselves. Thirty care recipients from existing cohorts in Tucson & Portland revealed clear benefits for cancer survivors. Data collected show that both cancer knowledge and self-efficacy (confidence in that cancer knowledge) significantly increased within the care recipient group. These results gave researchers the confidence to go forward with the recruitment of survivors as well as co-survivors.  More data on the impact of Un Abrazo Para la FamiliaTM should be available soon.

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