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2012 Undergraduate
Summer Cancer Prevention
Research Program
Research Opportunity
Preceptor Name: Drs. Patricia Dolan Mullen (UT School of Public Health) and
Robert Volk (UT MD Anderson)
Campus: Houston
Project Name: Acceptability of Active Surveillance as a Treatment Choice for
Prostate Cancer among U.S. Men
Background: At the heart of the controversy about the effectiveness of prostate
cancer screening and the national guidelines for informed decision making (IDM)
about screening is the lack of strong evidence that detection and treatment saves
lives. This is complicated by the high side effect profile of surgical and radiation
treatment. Nevertheless, the option of active surveillance (AS) for men with localized cancer appears not to receive due consideration by men or their partners.
There is both regional variation in the use of AS--lower rates across the
South/Southeast regions where the proposed study will be set-- and yet higher
rates among low income Hispanic and African American men whose monitoring for
disease progression may be of lower quality. Despite the challenges of supporting
IDM for patients, their families, and their health care providers for AS (including
setting expectations for quality indicators), we view decision aids (DAs)as a strong
method for providing balanced information about choices; and yet, current DAs do
not treat AS as a viable option. Objective: This project is guided by the International Patient Decision Aids Standards Collaboration recommendations about a systematic development process and the presentation of balanced content. We have
used the Ottawa Decision Support Framework to structure the study aims and focus on information needs of the target groups. Our specific aims are to: 1) describe the information needs and preferences of recently screened men and their
partners about AS as a treatment option; 2) describe the experience of men with
localized prostate cancer and their partners, including those who have chosen AS,
about their decision-making process, values, regrets, and unmet information
needs; and 3) based on the observations from Aims 1 and 2, design and test draft
informational products on AS in anticipation of developing a prostate cancer
treatment DA. Methods: We have completed aims 1 and 2. Working with a
behavioral economist, this summer we will recruit men and their partners
from survivor support groups around the U.S. to test message prototypes
(Aim 3). This formative work is the first step in a systematic process toward development of a treatment decision aid, with the goal of providing a balanced rep-
resentation of the treatment options and opportunity for deliberation with health
care providers in making a preference-sensitive decision.
Specific duties of student: Through this exciting and hands on opportunity, students will participate in weekly SIP 15 meetings, identify prostate cancer support
groups, work with the project team to select potential messages to be tested, assist the team in refining messages following a pilot test, and support the team in
message testing.
Student major or area of interest: Psychology, behavioral economics, health
communications, pre-medicine, and public health.