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Fact Sheet

 

The Behavioral Research Center (BRC) was established in 1995 as an intramural research program at the American Cancer Society’s (ACS) National Home Office.  

MISSION STATEMENT

We conduct original behavioral research to reduce cancer disparities, modify cancer risk behaviors, and improve cancer outcomes and quality of life among cancer survivors, caregivers, and the general population. 

We provide behavioral expertise to inform American Cancer Society (ACS) programs, services, and strategic activities.

The BRC develops and participates in evidence-based behavioral research that directly addresses ACS priorities such as quality of life and health behaviors. BRC staff provide expertise to inform ACS activities aimed at reducing cancer risk, monitoring population trends in symptom burden, and improving quality of life.  

The BRC partners with public health entities, community-based organizations, and academic institutions to produce high-impact publications, scientific meetings (e.g. the Biennial Cancer Survivorship Research Conferences) and behavioral science projects relevant to ACS priorities. 

The BRC comprises two major programs:

  • Survivorship and Quality of Life Research
  • Prevention and Health Behaviors Research

 

SURVIVORSHIP AND QUALITY OF LIFE RESEARCH

The Survivorship and Quality of Life Research program focuses on promoting optimal physical, emotional, and social health among cancer patients, survivors, and caregivers to achieve the ACS goal of improving their quality of life. A cancer diagnosis often leads to distressing symptoms and informational needs. This program of research investigates the adjustment of cancer survivors and their caregivers who may experience physical, emotional, and social deficits as the result of the disease and its treatment. In addition, this program works with other ACS staff to inform ACS programs designed to provide emotional and informational support for cancer survivors and their loved ones.  Studies in this area include: 

Study of Cancer Survivors (SCS) is a national, population-based, longitudinal study of quality of life of more than 5,000 cancer survivors. The study assesses survivors’ health behaviors and physical/emotional functioning as they progress through the survivorship continuum. Selected adults diagnosed with one of 10 common cancers (prostate, female breast, lung, colorectal, bladder, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, skin melanoma, kidney, ovarian, and uterine) are taking part in the study. To date, participants have completed surveys at 1, 2, and 8 years after diagnosis—allowing a comparison of changes over time and an assessment of the long-term impact of cancer. Study findings have added to our understanding of how people adjust to life after cancer and have informed ACS interventions for cancer survivors.

 The National Quality of Life Survey for Caregivers is a longitudinal study of the informal caregivers of cancer survivors who are participating in the ACS Study of Cancer Survivors (SCS). This project aims to identify unmet needs among family caregivers at 2, 5, and 8 years after the cancer diagnosis while examining the consequences providing care has on the caregiver’s quality of life. For more information about the ACS Study of Cancer Survivors and National Quality of Life Survey for Caregivers, contact Dr. Kevin Stein at  Kevin.Stein@cancer.org

 Symptom Surveillance and Disparities Study. The side effects of cancer treatment, such as pain, fatigue or depression, can be as difficult to endure as the disease itself. Many symptoms go under-reported or undertreated, leading to unnecessary suffering and impairments in quality of life, functioning, and treatment adherence. Measuring symptom control is difficult due to a lack of uniform reporting systems at the cancer center and population levels. Such systems would help identify at-risk groups, inform patient interventions and improve the quality of cancer care. The BRC is leading ACS efforts, including the design of studies, to develop scientifically rigorous systems for tracking trends in cancer symptoms and symptom management.

 The Survey of Physician Attitudes Regarding the Care of Cancer Survivors (SPARCCS) is a collaboration between the BRC and the National Cancer Institute that assesses the knowledge, attitudes and behaviors of primary care physicians and medical oncologists regarding post-curative care of colorectal and breast cancer survivors. The BRC is developing papers on physician attitudes and practices regarding care for cancer survivors, physician and patient barriers to optimal care of colorectal cancer survivors, and other topics. For more information about the Symptom Surveillance and Disparities Study or SPARCCS, contact Tenbroeck Smith at Tenbroeck.Smith@cancer.org

 The Post-Treatment Survivor Transition Study is collaboration between the BRC and the ACS Health Promotions Department that assesses how prepared survivors are for the transition from active treatment back to the community care setting. The study examines the extent to which preparedness for transition is associated with better outcomes, including compliance with screening/surveillance recommendations, health behaviors, fewer emergency room visits, and better management of symptoms and co-morbid conditions. This multi-phase study includes focus groups as well as a large national survey in its effort to identify and prioritize gaps in information and resources for cancer survivors during this transition. For more information about The Post-Treatment Survivor Transition Study, contact Dr. Corinne Leach at  Corinne.Leach@cancer.org

 

 Biennial Cancer Survivorship Research Conference

The Biennial Cancer Survivorship Research Conference, initiated in 2002 by the BRC and the National Cancer Institute’s Office of Cancer Survivorship, brings together investigators, clinicians, and survivors to share and learn about the most up-to-date cancer survivorship research.  

The 6th biennial conference, Cancer Survivorship Research: Translating Science to Care, will be held at the Marriott Crystal Gateway, Arlington, Virginia, June 14–16, 2012 and is co-sponsored by ACS Behavioral Research Center, National Cancer Institute, LIVESTRONG, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The conference will feature cutting-edge research addressing the post-treatment health and functioning of cancer survivors and their families, with special attention to translating basic research into community interventions that enhance survivors’ health-related outcomes.  

For more information about the Biennial conference, visit: http://www.cancer.org/Survivorship2012

Past Biennial Cancer Survivorship Research Conferences:

2010 Biennial Cancer Survivorship Research Conference

Cancer Survivorship Research: Recovery and Beyond  

Washington, DC, June 17–19, 2010 

2008 Biennial Cancer Survivorship Research Conference

Cancer Survivorship: Mapping the New Challenges

Atlanta, GA, June 18–20, 2008  

2006 Biennial Cancer Survivorship Research Conference

Cancer Survivorship: Embracing the Future

North Bethesda, MD, October 4–6, 2006  

2004 Biennial Cancer Survivorship Research Conference

Cancer Survivorship: Pathways to Health After Treatment

Washington, DC, June 17–18, 2004  

2002 Biennial Cancer Survivorship Research Conference

Cancer Survivorship: Resilience Across the Lifespan

Washington, DC, June 2–4, 2002 

 

PREVENTION and HEALTH BEHAVIORS RESEARCH

Prevention and Health Behaviors Research identifies and addresses behavioral factors involved in the primary and secondary prevention of cancer, including health behaviors such as diet, physical activity, cancer screening and tobacco control.  While there are plans to expand our research in diet, physical activity, and cancer screening, current BRC focuses on tobacco control research.  The Tobacco Research program focuses on increasing smokers’ motivation to quit and/or their success in quitting. We study the contributions of (i) social influences such as social pressure to quit or receiving social support during quitting; (ii) psychological factors such as depression, personality, or gender differences; and (iii) biological influences. The BRC also investigates how these factors interact—for example, the relationship between physiological stress responses and cravings or relapse, and the ability of social support to affect this relationship. The results are used to develop strategies that increase the demand for, and the effectiveness of, smoking cessation interventions. We are also interested in adapting cessation interventions for populations that experience disparities in the prevalence and effects of tobacco use.  Studies in this area include: 

Study of Tailored Email Messages for Smoking Cessation. This randomized controlled clinical trial will examine whether emails offering personalized and tailored smoking cessation advice before and after smokers ’identified quit date helps them abstain from tobacco. This low-cost intervention may be adapted for cancer survivors. 

Study of Smokers’ Treatment Preferences. This study, using data from over 1200 smokers accessing the ACS Great American Smokeout website for advice on quitting, employed cluster analysis to gain insight into how smokers make judgments about their preferences for cessation treatments. It also identified socio-demographic and other predictors of interest in cessation products and services. Results will be used to more effectively target subgroups of smokers to increase demand for treatments  

Study of Gender, Social Support, and Stress Responses. This randomized, controlled laboratory study (funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse) examines whether emotional support from a romantic partner can lower smokers’ cravings, withdrawal symptoms, emotional distress, and actual smoking during a period of abstinence from nicotine. This study is the first experimental investigation of the possible underlying mechanisms responsible for the effects of social support in helping smokers quit. It will also examine the role of gender in predicting effects. For more information about Tobacco research, contact Dr. Lee Westmaas at  Lee.Westmaas@cancer.org

  

Contact BRC

BehavioralResearch@cancer.org
1.800.758.0227
or, Asha Menon at 404.329.7769

American Cancer Society, NHO
Behavioral Research Center
250 Williams Street, NE
Atlanta, GA 30303