WASHINGTON--The Center for the Advancement of Health is working
on a 3-year cancer initiative whose purpose is to increase support
for psycho-social and biobehavioral research and services for
cancer patients, said executive director Jessie Gruman, PhD. The
Center was founded in 1992 by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur
Foundation and the Nathan Cummings Foundation.
In an interview with Oncology News International, Dr. Gruman said
that the scientific community has sought solutions to diseases
such as cancer by looking for the biologic causes. Yet there are
nonbiologic factors (social isolation, socioeconomic class, and
depression) that also affect health outcomes and that have been
Evidence shows that these factors influence morbidity and mortality
across diseases, Dr. Gruman said, but this concept has found little
support in mainstream biologic research, which explores each disease
separately and looks for a single etiology.
The Center's Cancer Initiative, now in its second year, is an
attempt to help cancer patients by recognizing some of these psychosocial
factors. As part of this initiative, the Center is currently directing
three separate projects.
The first project involves training cancer patients to be their
own best advocates. There is evidence that individuals who are
actively engaged in maintaining their own health and medical care
enjoy an improved quality of life and better health outcomes.
The Center is currently developing a resource guide and training
program for use at local and national levels to support patient
The second project involves developing and implementing psychosocial
services that can be used as models for the rest of the country.
The purpose is to identify the most important elements of supportive
and psychosocial services, and to make those elements standard
in cancer treatment and care.