Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis

Psychology Professor Earns National Grants to Research Treatments for Cancer Patients and Caregivers

Release Date: 
Aug 27 2013

An assistant professor of psychology in the School of Science at IUPUI will apply nearly $1 million in recently approved grants to study how a telephone-based treatment process can help ease stress and anxiety issues experienced by advanced-stage lung cancer patients and the family members who care for them.

Cathy Mosher
Catherine Mosher, Ph.D., Psychology

Catherine Mosher, Ph.D., said telephone-based psychological counseling is nothing new for cancer patients; however, few studies have examined how extending these services to family caregivers impacts the overall quality of care and comfort of the patient.

“Many caregivers are highly burdened and stressed as a result of the commitment it takes to care for an advanced-stage cancer patient,” said Mosher. “Through this flexible approach to mental health care, we’re able to tailor the process to best treat the particular problems they are experiencing.”

In recent weeks, Mosher learned she had been selected to receive nearly $1 million in grant funding related to her research, including support from the National Cancer Institute and the American Cancer Society. In addition, the IUPUI Center for Cancer Population Analytics and Patient-Centered Informatics, through the IUPUI Signature Centers Initiative, pledged $300,000 to support projects for Mosher, David Haggstrom, M.D., and other campus researchers to examine ways technology can enhance cancer patient care.

All grants were for multiple years. The American Cancer Society grant awarded to Mosher in July was presented to only three people across the country. She also has two previous grants awarded by the National Institutes of Health.

The telephone-based treatment program would involve four sessions of counseling and evaluation by a trained mental health professional with both the patient and their primary caregiver. This would occur across four to eight weeks, and the focus would include delivering psychosocial and behavioral interventions that could improve symptom management and quality of life. 

“Past research has shown that up to half of caregivers for cancer patients experience a high level of stress and many report health risk behaviors such as chronic sleep problems and persistent smoking. This has a marked effect on the quality of care they are able to provide these patients,” Mosher said.

Mosher and her research team will gather data during the next few years with plans to implement a larger scale, randomized project in the future.

In addition to her success earning grant funding for her primary research, IUPUI students mentored by Mosher have had a successful year under her guidance as well.

Cathy Mosher and students
(Left to right) Rebecca Adams, Joseph Winger, Catherine Mosher, Shannon Christy, Leah Van Antwerp

Doctoral psychology student Shannon Christy was one of two students to recently receive the Scott Mesh Honorary Grant, a highly competitive national award from the American Psychological Association of Graduate Students. Graduate student Joseph Winger earned the Behavioral Cooperative Oncology Group Pre-doctoral Fellowship. Graduate student Rebecca Adams earned the National Cancer Institute R25 pre-doctoral training award, and undergraduate Leah Van Antwerp earned a scholarship from Psi Chi, the international honor society for psychology.