Helping Black men cope with prostate cancer

Yue Liao, College of Nursing and Health Innovation

A researcher in the College of Nursing and Health Innovation (CONHI) is collaborating with the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center to investigate Black prostate cancer patients and the stress they and their partners face in everyday life.

The National Institutes of Health-funded project will use ecological momentary assessments, or brief surveys throughout the day, to get snapshots of how these cancer patients and their partners are coping with the disease. The project is titled “One Plus One Can Be Greater Than Two: Ecological Momentary Assessment for Black Prostate Cancer Survivors and Partners.”

“This project is about better understanding our African American cancer patients and their spouses’ daily experiences after cancer treatment in order to develop culturally tailored interventions that could help them cope with stress due to cancer diagnosis and adopt healthier lifestyles,” said Yue Liao, assistant professor of kinesiology at The University of Texas at Arlington.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, African American men are more likely to get prostate cancer than other men and twice as likely to die from it.

“The disparity in cancer rates was always there, but now we are paying more attention to it and trying to address it,” Liao said. “We know the Black male community has the highest burden of prostate cancer, and it is alarming. We want to be able to inform interventions that can improve their health outcomes after cancer diagnosis and treatment.”

Originally delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the project is now starting up again, with the research team entering the recruitment phase. One unique aspect of this project is the amount of data that can be collected now through smart phones.

“Years ago, we would not be able to seamlessly ask participants throughout the day about their experiences, so it really is the right time with the increased access to mobile technology,” Liao said. “We are not only able to collect information regarding the patient himself, but also what is happening to his spouse, thus allowing the investigation of dynamics in stress, coping and behaviors within couples.”

Dalnim Cho from MD Anderson’s Department of Health Disparities Research is leading the study.

– Written by Sarah McBride, College of Nursing and Health Innovation

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