Duke University School of Medicine, Durham, North Carolina
Palliative Care and Shared Decision Making for Patients with Blood Cancers
Palliative care improves symptom burden, quality of life, distress, caregiver outcomes, health system outcomes, and even survival, when added to standard cancer care. However, patients with blood cancers are much less likely to use palliative care services compared to patients with solid organ tumors. My long-term goal is to improve the quality of life of patients with blood cancers by facilitating the integration of specialist palliative care services into blood cancer care, across all stages of illness. Taking a step towards that goal, this project focuses on improving patients’ understanding of their illness. My research suggests that many patients with leukemia do not have a very good understanding of their prognosis, and that this limits their ability to make an informed decision about treatment. As such, the short-term goal of this project is to develop a decision tool that addresses leukemia patients’ information needs.