Cancer Survivorship of Asian Americans

Eun-Ok Im, PhD, MPH, RN, CNS, FAAN,Eun-Ok Im, PhD, MPH, RN, CNS, FAAN,Eun-Ok Im, PhD, MPH, RN, CNS, FAAN, Mary T. Champagne Professor of Nursing Duke University School of Nursing (DUSON), received a nearly $3 million research grant award from the National Institutes of Health for her study “To Enhance Breast Cancer Survivorship of Asian Americans.” The award is for a five-year period that began June 1, 2016, and ends May 31, 2021.

The purpose of the study is to test the efficacy of the technology-based information and coaching/support program for Asian American breast cancer survivors (TICAA) in enhancing the women’s breast cancer survivorship experience. Im previously developed the technology-based program in her former research project grant (R01) studies.

“We expect that this study would provide directions for future refinement and implementation of the program in various health care settings,” said Im. “This will ultimately improve and enhance the survivorship experience of Asian American breast cancer survivors in their major health transition, which is subsequently expected to improve the quality of life and health outcomes of the patients.”

Asian American breast cancer survivors shoulder an unnecessary burden of breast cancer because they rarely complain about symptoms or pain, delay seeking help and rarely ask or get support due to their cultural values, beliefs and language barriers. In addition, survivorship programs that are increasingly instituted at cancer centers have serious impediments to providing information and coaching/support because of the lack of staff time and insurance reimbursement. A technology-based approach using computers and mobile devices promises to meet this necessity with flexibility and accessibility and also minimizes the cost of the intervention in busy and costly health care settings.

This funded study will help determine the efficacy of the program in health outcomes such as needs for help, psychological and physical symptoms and quality of life in Asian American breast cancer survivors. The long-term goals of the study are to implement the program into various health care settings, determine if the TICAA will lead to long-term improved health outcomes and enhance the methodology of culturally-tailored technology-based interventions for ethnic minority groups of breast cancer survivors.

This is Im’s fourth R01 study funded by the NIH as the principal investigator. Wonshik Chee, PhD, associate professor for DUSON, is a co-investigator of the study and helped develop the TICAA. Qing Yang, PhD, assistant professor for DUSON, recently joined the team as a statistician.