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    Awarded Grants
    Improving Outcomes: A Pilot Study of an Integrative East-West Medical Model for Survivors with Chronic Disabling Symptoms

    Scientific Abstract:
    After receiving surgical, radiation and/or chemotherapy treatments, many breast cancer survivors (BCS) confront long-term, sometimes disabling, symptoms. Frequently reported are chronic pain, fatigue, severe hot flashes, memory loss or “chemo brain,” and a host of other symptoms. Whether they report one or several of these symptoms, many BCS experience a tremendous decrease in their quality of life. Some complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) approaches have been shown to offer solutions for supportive care . However, these have rarely been examined specifically for breast cancer patients. Interview data from symptomatic BCS indicate a vast willingness to utilize CAM for symptom management/relief if it were accessible and affordable. For this project, we propose to evaluate the impact of a patient-centered integrative East-West medical model intended to improve the health related quality of life (HRQOL) for breast cancer survivors living with post-treatment symptoms. We hypothesize that incorporation of integrative East-West medical treatments as part of overall care will alleviate specific symptomatic problems as experienced by BCS. Specifically, we aim to: 1) provide free clinical services and self-treatment education; 2) evaluate the effectiveness of this integrative approach on quality of life over standard medical care; and, 3) evaluate the impact of treatment on ancillary measures of pain, fatigue and depression. Forty experimental subjects will be randomly drawn from a pool of 80 survivors who participated in a previous, Komen funded study of BCS with disabling post-treatment symptoms. Subjects will be treated weekly over a period of twelve weeks. In depth qualitative interviews will be conducted with patients at the baseline, midpoint, end of treatment, and post-treatment points. Additionally, we will use four commonly-used, standardized questionnaires to assess overall QOL, pain, fatigue, and depression/anxiety/stress. The incorporation of CAM treatments in overall patient care potentially offers enormous promise of symptom relief to the population of survivors who suffer from them.

    Lay Abstract:
    After receiving cancer treatments, many breast cancer survivors (BCS) confront long-term, sometimes disabling, symptoms. Frequently reported are chronic pain, fatigue, severe hot flashes, memory loss or “chemo brain,” and a host of other symptoms. As a result, many BCS experience a tremendous decrease in their quality of life. Some complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) approaches have been shown to offer solutions for supportive care. However, these have rarely been examined specifically for breast cancer patients. Interview data from BCS with symptoms indicate willingness to utilize CAM for symptom management/relief if it were accessible and affordable. For this project, we propose to evaluate the impact of a patient-centered integrative East-West medical model intended to improve the health related quality of life (HRQOL) for breast cancer survivors living with post-treatment symptoms. We hypothesize that incorporation of CAM treatments as part of overall care will alleviate specific symptomatic problems as experienced by BCS. Specifically, we aim to: 1) provide free clinical services and self-treatment education; 2) evaluate the effectiveness of this integrative approach on quality of life over standard medical care; and, 3) evaluate the impact of treatment on pain, fatigue and depression. Forty experimental subjects will be randomly drawn from a pool of 80 survivors who participated in a previous, Komen funded study of BCS with disabling post-treatment symptoms. Subjects will be treated weekly over a period of twelve weeks. In depth qualitative interviews will be conducted with patients at the beginning, midpoint, end of treatment, and post-treatment points. Additionally, we will use four commonly-used, standardized questionnaires to assess overall QOL, pain, fatigue, and depression/anxiety/stress. The incorporation of CAM treatments in overall patient care potentially offers enormous promise of symptom relief to the population of survivors who suffer from them.