Under the direction of Dr. Gary Deimling and Dr. Karen Bowman, the Cancer Survivors Research Program (CSRP) is now in its eleventh year studying the quality of life of older adult long-term cancer survivors. There has been little research on this group of cancer survivors because, historically, survival among older adults was relatively rare. However, advances in cancer treatment along with more general increases in longevity mean that cancer survivorship among older adults will be a significant aspect of later life for more individuals.
The research employs the general stress and coping paradigm that has long been used in research on the effects of illness. The work also combines the perspectives of extreme stress theory and identity theory to examine the effects of cancer on this uniquely vulnerable group of survivors. While only a small proportion of cancer survivors exhibit traumatic stress symptoms, the presence of sub-clinical levels of post-traumatic stress disorder needs to be addressed.
Another major theme of our work has been on how the development of the “survivor identity” buffers the individual from some of the more profound effects of cancer. While identity theory has been adapted to the study of illness, our research will be the first explicit test of identity issues and survivorship as related to long-term psychosocial distress. Other key aspects of the research will address the ways that personal dispositions such as coping style and health beliefs, along with proactive behaviors such as health promotion and marshalling social and health care support, can buffer cancer survivors from chronic stressors associated with cancer survivorship. The project has collected six waves of data from our survivors sample.
Since 1998 the program has obtained three grants from the National Institute of Health – National Cancer Institute:
12/09 – 12/10: Gary Deimling (PI), “Feasibility Research to Inform the Development of a Coping and Communication Support Intervention for Older Adult, Long-Term Cancer Survivors.” Case Comprehensive Cancer Center (TDC) $26,000.
8/03 – 6/09: Gary Deimling (PI), “The Quality of Life of Older Adult, Long-term Cancer Survivors”, The National Cancer Institute and the National Institute on Aging (TDC) $1,125,000.
8/01 – 9/03: Karen Bowman (PI), “Family Members and the Survivorship Phase of Cancer.” The National Cancer Institute (TDC) $100,00.
8/03 – present: Eva Kahana (PI), “Multiple Morbidities in Vulnerable Populations.” The National Cancer Institute and the National Institute on Aging (TDC) $1,025,000.
10/98 – 7/03: Gary Deimling (PI), “The Quality of Life of Older Adult, Long-term Cancer Survivors”, The National Cancer Institute and the National Institute on Aging (TDC) $924,153.
2010 Recognition for Excellence in the Presentation of Research-Based Poster. The American Psychosocial Oncology Society, 7th Annual Conference, New Orleans, Louisiana, February 2010.
2006 American Cancer Society Trish Greene Memorial Award for “Research on Cancer and Quality of Life.”
2004 National Cancer Institute Office of Cancer Survivorship “Outstanding Researcher in the Field of Cancer Survivorship.”
2004 Lance Armstrong Foundation Mentor.
2002 Ohio Research Council “Outstanding Researcher of the Year.”