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Home Counseling Program for Women With Lung Cancer to Be Studied

Home Counseling Program for Women With Lung Cancer to Be Studied

Researchers at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center are examining the effectiveness of bringing psychological support into the homes of women with advanced stages of lung cancer through telephone and videophone counseling programs. The ongoing study is being funded by the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation’s Better Health for Women Program, a global initiative supporting research on serious women’s health problems.

Investigators at Memorial Sloan-Kettering will use the $200,000 grant to provide at-home psychological counseling to 90 women whose illness makes it difficult for them to travel. An additional 90 sessions will be held with the patients’ primary caregivers, since other studies have found the highest levels of distress among those individuals.

Women with lung cancer have a high rate of anxiety and depression, and fear the future for themselves and for their families. Over 2 years, the Sloan-Kettering team will determine whether they can reduce distress and improve quality of life for these women by making counseling services more accessible. They will compare giving counseling by regular telephone calls vs the use of a videophone, which allows patients to see their counselor. Counselors will provide eight half-hour sessions focused on how the person is coping with the illness and how they may adapt to the changes in their lives.

“Patients with lung cancer often feel isolated, especially when they are unable to move around much as a result of their progressing illness,” said Jimmie C. Holland, MD, chairman of the Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and principal investigator of the study. “There are similar issues with their caregivers. This effort will determine whether we can improve their quality of life by bringing psychological services to them at home via the telephone, which is so much a part of life for homebound patients with chronic disease.” If this model is proven to be effective in women with lung cancer, investigators say it may be helpful to patients with other chronic illnesses.

“Lung cancer is one of the major health threats facing American women today. Unfortunately, it is a health problem that has not received enough attention,” said Mariclaire Payawal, director of the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation. “In supporting this and other studies, we hope to raise national awareness of lung cancer among women, improve our understanding of how the disease affects women differently than men, and develop effective solutions.”

More on the Women’s Health Education Program

The Women’s Health Education Program was established by the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation in 1994 to improve our understanding of the unique health needs of women and the role that gender plays in health. The program’s goals are to identify and develop novel approaches to educating women about their health and well-being and to help women become more informed decision-makers and better advocates for their own health care. The program has committed more than $8.5 million to support projects that test innovative outreach strategies, cultivate partnerships among institutions from different sectors interested in women’s health, or add new information to the existing body of knowledge that will help define and achieve optimal health for women around the world.

Funding is provided through general demonstration program grants, which support major initiatives in different areas of women’s health, and the Better Health for Women Program, which supports projects in specific areas of women’s health through an annual request for proposals. The Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation, Inc., supports philanthropic initiatives that help extend and enhance human life.

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