by Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute Associate Investigator Karen Wernli, PhD, Research Associate Marlaine Gray, PhD, Senior Research Associate Evette Ludman, PhD, and Project Manager Tara Beatty
In 2016, we launched The Clare Project to understand how adolescent and young adult (AYA) patients with advanced cancer make medical decisions. Our study is a memorial to a family member, Karen’s sister-in-law, who died in 2014. Our goal is to improve care for young people with advanced-stage cancer by asking them what they need, want, and value.
We spoke to 22 patients, caregivers, and clinicians from across the United States who shared their stories with us. We’re excited to report what we’ve learned from these interviews as our first early results. Our team presented these findings this spring at the American Society of Preventive Oncology meeting and the Pacific Northwest Palliative Care conference in Seattle. Here are some of the key results we shared.
One focus in our first round of interviews was making clinical decisions in the absence of clear data about treatment effectiveness. We learned:
We have results that could improve communication with AYA patients with cancer. When we started The Clare Project, we explored using social media to connect with people who could tell us about their experiences. Through Facebook, personal blogs, and especially Twitter, we found diverse online communities that AYA patients with cancer use for treatment advice, encouragement, and emotional support. We’re still learning the best ways to communicate online with patients. But we were surprised at how well we connected with AYA patients with advanced-stage cancer through social media outlets. We hope other cancer researchers and providers can learn from what we know so far:
Based on our first results, we urge clinicians to work towards clear communication with patients, even in circumstances with uncertainty.
We thank all the people who have talked with us. Your stories continue to live with us. And your participation highlights how AYA patients want to speak about their experiences. Talking with patients, caregivers, and clinicians provided us with rich information about a particularly important group of patients. We’ll continue use this knowledge in The Clare Project.
Please keep in touch with us on Twitter @clareproject and Facebook where we’ll announce the next phase of our work. Contact us at email@example.com if you are interested in participating in our study. Our next research topic is cancer and fertility planning.
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