Department of Anesthesiology & Perioperative Care: School of Medicine: University of California, Irvine

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Michelle Fortier, PhD Receives Pilot Grant from The Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center

"The effects of a mobile intervention for parent management of children's cancer pain on parental stress and immune function"

February 12, 2015

Michelle Fortier, PhD received a pilot grant from The Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center (CFCCC) for a project titled “The effects of a mobile intervention for parentDr. Michelle Fortier photo management of children's cancer pain on parental stress and immune function.” This is a cooperative grant with another CFCCC member, Edward Nelson, MD.

This project will focus on a newly developed computer tablet-based intervention that consists of empirically-based information and coping enhancement techniques that target parent management of children’s cancer pain throughout the disease process. This intervention, Cancer-Tailored Intervention for Pain (C-TIPs), was previously developed by Dr. Fortier and is an intervention targeting parent management of children’s cancer pain at home and includes a stress management tutorial for parents.

The goal of this project is to collect Dr. Edward Nelson photodata specific to parent outcomes with regard to self-report and physiological indicators of stress. Specifically, increased parental stress during children’s cancer treatment has implications not just for children’s pain management but for parental immune system functioning and long-term risk for chronic illness. Parents of children with cancer are an understudied population but there is some evidence to suggest neuroendocrine dysfunction and altered immune system functioning in this population. Thus, the ability to impact psychoneuroimmunological functioning of parents of children with cancer has implications for both child and parent emotional and physical functioning.

The purpose of the present study, therefore, is to strengthen the C-TIPS program by demonstrating that providing parents with information and skills training in both managing children’s cancer pain in the home setting and reducing parent stress will impact not just children’s pain and quality of life but parents’ physiological responses to the stress of having a child with cancer. This CFCCC cooperative pilot grant provides an opportunity for Dr. Fortier to merge a program of science in behavioral management of pain and stress with biological outcomes related to stress and quality of life through collaboration with Dr. Nelson and his research team.