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Research Programs

Discipline-based Programs


Co-Leaders: Susan Block, MD

Palliative Care

The mission of the DF/HCC working group in Psychosocial Oncology and Palliative Medicine (POPM) is to improve clinical care for patients with cancer and their families by: advancing understanding of the psychosocial, spiritual, and physical dimensions of quality of life; developing and testing strategies for the early detection, prevention, and management of psychosocial and physical symptoms associated with life-threatening illness; and elucidating the biological and physiological mechanisms related to pain and other sources of physical distress.

This multidisciplinary working group brings together investigators in basic, clinical, and population research, representing the disciplines of oncology, geriatrics, pediatrics, palliative care, complementary medicine, psychobiology, social sciences, pharmacology, nursing, epidemiology, health services research, psychology and psychiatry.

The goals of the DF/HCC Psychosocial Oncology and Palliative Medicine working group are to:

  • Identify needs for and barriers to psychosocial and palliative care, particularly among vulnerable and understudied/underserved populations (e.g., pediatric and geriatric patients, patients in racial/ethnic minority groups)

  • Describe disease-specific processes and outcomes related to psychosocial oncology and palliative care

  • Identify underlying biological and physiological mechanisms of pain and other sources of physical distress (e.g., dyspnea and delirium) and translate these findings into clinical interventions

  • Design and test psychosocial and palliative interventions using both conventional, complementary, and alternative approaches

  • Improve outcome and screening measurement tools to assess psychosocial function and psychosocial and palliative care

  • Promote the inclusion of psychosocial and palliative care outcomes in clinical trials through links with other disease programs

  • Identify means of tracking patients through the continuum of care from outpatient, inpatient, home care, and hospice

  • Identify physician-level behavioral and communication barriers to assessing and treating psychosocial and physical distress

  • Development of disease-specific cohort studies to enhance understanding of disease trajectories (to inform longer-term treatment goals and plans for care)

  • To develop web-based resources such as relevant information and links, self-assessments and online tutorials that address coping with cancer and cancer patient and family member quality of life