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Prepare to Care, A Supported Self-Management Intervention for Head and Neck Cancer Caregivers

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PROJECT SUMMARY Patients with head and neck cancer (HNC) can experience life altering side effects during radiotherapy (RT), resulting in significant care needs and psychological distress that exceeds that of patients with many other cancer diagnoses. Informal (unpaid) caregivers of patients with HNC have poorer psychological health compared to patients and the general population. HNC caregivers have unmet informational needs and desire wellness programs on stress reduction during patient oncologic treatment; however, there are no published intervention studies designed to meet HNC caregivers? psycho-educational and stress management needs. The overall goal of this research is to optimize stress management skills in HNC caregivers by implementing a supported self-management (SSM) intervention, Prepare to Care, to reduce negative psychological effects associated with providing care during patient RT. Twenty HNC caregivers of patients undergoing RT will participate in the SSM intervention during the patient?s RT and complete assessments (burden, psychological distress, quality of life, and self-efficacy for (a) coping with cancer and (b) abbreviated progressive muscle relaxation) pre and post- intervention and semi-structured interviews post-intervention. Prepare to Care includes self-directed educational materials to provide information and teach strategies to manage emotions and promote healthy behaviors. Materials are provided in hard copy and online, with iPads linked to the study website available at the clinic during daily RT treatments. Several topics (or, modules) are offered and selection of modules is supported by weekly assessments with the interventionist to identify caregivers? current needs. For Aim 1, we will assess feasibility (accrual, participation, retention) and acceptability of a SSM intervention for psycho-education and stress management skills building designed for informal caregivers (n=20) of HNC patients undergoing RT. For Aim 2, we will obtain preliminary data on caregiver intermediate (self-efficacy for (a) coping with cancer and (b) abbreviated progressive muscle relaxation) and outcome variables (burden, psychological distress, and quality of life) before and after the intervention. For Aim 3, we will refine intervention procedures and materials for future studies by examining: a) qualitative data from caregivers and interventionist notes and b) quantitative data regarding module utilization. Results will provide feasibility and acceptability data on the first psychosocial intervention developed for HNC caregivers during patient RT and will directly inform the development of a multisite randomized controlled trial to be implemented through the Wake Forest NCI Community Oncology Research Program (NCORP) Research Base.
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