Karmanos Cancer Institute’s Hayley Thompson, Ph.D., awarded $1.8 million grant to improve access to cancer survivor resources

by LP Green, II

Hayley S. Thompson, Ph. D., associate professor, Population Studies and Disparities Research Program at the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute, and Department of Oncology, Wayne State University School of Medicine, was recently awarded a $1.8 milliongrant from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), which will be given over the next four years.

The grant titled “eHealth Activity among African American and White Cancer Survivors” will study the use of Internet-based and mobile technologies by cancer survivors once their treatment has ended. The study will compare how African American and White cancer survivors access health resources electronically and the impact that has on their cancer survivorship.

Interviews will be conducted with a sample of approximately 1,230 African American and White breast, prostate, and colorectal cancer survivors from the metropolitan Detroit area to assess general eHealth activity, as well as specific eHealth activities, such as searching the Internet for health information, purchasing medication online or emailing one’s physician. There will also be a select subsample of 144 participants who will receive in-home visits from the study team to observe personal health information management in the home and examine the role of technology in the context of health information management. The results will guide the development of a prototype of a mobile app focused on cancer survivorship resources that can be accessed digitally.

“There are more than 14 million cancer survivors in the United States today. By 2024, this number is expected to increase to 19 million,” said Dr. Thompson. “While it is good news that more people are surviving cancer, many of these individuals face different health related issues. Working with eHealth technologies to help improve the cancer survivor’s access to needed services could help address and prevent some of the overwhelming needs and stresses that cancer survivors experience, as well as assist in the ever-changing healthcare arena.

“Having access to this technology also has the potential to help close the gap on health disparities.”

Objectives of this study of African American and White cancer survivors and their use of eHealth technologies are to:

  • Examine racial differences in general eHealth activity
  • Examine racial differences in specific categories of eHealth activity
  • Explore the role of eHealth in the broader context of personal health information management
  • Use the data collected to develop a mobile app for cancer survivors

The study will also compare cancer survivors who have Internet access against those without to better understand the factors that determine such access.

Dr. Thompson is the principal investigator on this study. Her team from Karmanos and Wayne State UniversitySchool of Medicine includes: Deborah Charbonneau, Ph.D.; Tara Eaton, Ph.D.; Judith Abrams, Ph.D.; Jennifer Beebe-Dimmer, Ph.D.; Elisabeth Heath, M.D.; and Ke Zhang, Ph.D.

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