$6.8 million NCI grant will improve palliative care in clinical trials

April 17, 2015 | by Denise Heady

City of Hope's Betty Ferrell City of Hope's Betty Ferrell is testing a new palliative care model on patients in a phase I clinical trial.

Cancer patients who are participating in early-stage clinical trials need extra emotional and physical support due to their additional stress and often unique symptoms. Now an effort by researchers at City of Hope to create a model for such support has received a $6.8 million grant from the National Cancer Institute (NCI).
The grant will support work by City of Hope's Betty Ferrell, Ph.D., R.N., and another institution to test a palliative care intervention program for cancer patients with a solid tumor who are also participating in a phase I clinical trial. The intervention aims to improve patients’ quality of life and symptoms and to promote the use of a hospital’s palliative care resources.
“The patients who are going on phase I clinical trials tend to be very sick,” said Ferrell, director of the Division of Nursing Research and Education at City of Hope and leader in the field of palliative care nursing and research. “Yet, they are volunteering to help us advance science by participating in our clinical trials and helping us advance treatments for the future. We want to make sure they are well-taken care of during the process and getting the best support possible.”
Ferrell is the principal investigator on the study for City of Hope, which is the primary site for the phase I clinical trial.
“Phase I clinical trials are unique in that for many of the patients, they have run out of standard therapies and are now facing the reality of their disease,” said Vincent Chung, M.D., associate clinical professor in the Department of Medical Oncology & Therapeutics Research at City of Hope and a co-investigator on the study. “An integrated palliative care program provides patients additional support that also improves their care. ”
Ferrell has recently finished testing the intervention among lung cancer patients and their family caregivers and preliminary findings indicate that the intervention is effective in helping improve quality of life, symptom control and support for family members who receive this care.
The NCI-funded project began in September 2014 and is expected to finish in August 2019.

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