This resubmitted R25 proposal is for a Cancer Education Grant to develop, implement, and evaluate an intensive educational workshop on research methods in supportive oncology for early-stage investigators. Supportive oncology includes palliative care, symptom management, psychosocial oncology, and survivorship. Despite major advances in our understanding of cancer and its treatment, the majority of individuals with cancer still suffer from fatigue, pain, anxiety, insomnia, depressive symptoms, and poor appetite. Such debilitating symptoms not only affect quality of life (QOL), but also impact healthcare utilization, adherence to cancer treatment, and possibly even survival. Research has confirmed the value of supportive oncology, such as with a trial of early palliative care showing improved QOL and survival for patients with metastatic lung cancer. However, the evidence base for supportive oncology interventions is still emerging, and additional research is necessary to guide clinical care. To address this gap, the proposed workshop responds to national calls for developing expert scientists with the skills needed to conduct high-quality research in supportive oncology, targeting four of the eight missions of the NCI: 1) to understand the factors that influence cancer outcomes;2) to improve the quality of cancer care;3) to improve the quality of life for cancer patients, survivors, and their families;and 4) to overcome cancer health disparities. Approach and setting: Over the five years of the grant, 204 early-stage researchers from diverse disciplines (physicians, nurses, psychologists, and social workers) will attend this intensive six-day workshop at the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH). The workshop is modeled after the successful ASCO-AACR annual workshop on clinical trials. The primary goal of the workshop is train early-stage investigators in essential research methods in supportive oncology, which will enable them to write scientifically sound study protocols and implement these protocols across the US. Faculty will teach and directly mentor participants as they develop a research idea into a completed study protocol of sufficient caliber for submission to an IRB. Participants will attend a broad range of didactic sessions regarding relevant methodologies and receive individual consultations from biostatisticians and other faculty. Faculty: To accomplish these goals, we have assembled an expert team of faculty to plan, produce, and evaluate the workshop, including the current co-chair of the ASCO-AACR clinical trials workshop. Having established a highly-productive and well-known program of supportive oncology research at MGH, the PIs (Drs. Pirl and Temel) possess the requisite experience and leadership skills to organize this workshop. Collaborating organizations: To further increase the chance of success, we have partnered with the American Cancer Society (ACS), National Center for Palliative Care Research, University of Massachusetts, Boston/ Dana-Farber Harvard Cancer Center U54, and the MGH ACS Institutional Research Grant to promote the workshop and to help ensure a diverse and qualified source of participants.
Cancer continues to cause suffering both physically and psychologically. While supportive oncology research has potential to alleviate this suffering, a need to develop investigators with research training has been identified. We propose an intensive workshop on supportive oncology research methods to meet this need.