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Shades of Survivorship

Elyse R. Park, Jeffrey Peppercorn, and Areej El-Jawahri

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A Pilot Randomized Trial of an Advance Care Planning Video Decision Support Tool for Adolescents and Young Adults With Advanced Cancer

Jennifer M. Snaman, Deborah Feifer, Gabrielle Helton, Yuchiao Chang, Areej El-Jawahri, Angelo E. Volandes, and Joanne Wolfe

Background: Adolescents and young adults (AYAs) with advanced cancer often receive intensive end-of-life care, yet it is unclear if this is goal-concordant. Advance care planning (ACP) video tools may promote identification and communication of AYA preferences. Patients and Methods: We conducted a dual-site, 1:1 pilot randomized controlled trial of a novel video-based ACP tool in 50 dyads of AYA patients aged 18 to 39 years with advanced cancer and their caregivers. ACP readiness and knowledge, preferences for future care, and decisional conflict were obtained pre, post, and 3 months after the intervention and compared between groups. Results: Of the 50 AYA/caregiver dyads enrolled, 25 (50%) were randomized to the intervention. Participants primarily identified as female, white, and non-Hispanic. Most AYAs (76%) and caregivers (86%) identified their overall goal as life-prolonging preintervention; less identified this goal postintervention (42% AYAs; 52% caregivers). There was no significant difference in change in proportion of AYAs or caregivers choosing life-prolonging care, CPR, or ventilation between arms postintervention or at 3 months. The change in participant scores for ACP knowledge (AYAs and caregivers) and ACP readiness (AYAs) from preintervention to postintervention was greater in the video arm compared with the control arm; the difference in caregivers’ scores for decisional conflict from preintervention to postintervention in the video arm was statistically significant (15 vs 7; P=.005). Feedback from the video participants was overwhelmingly positive; of the 45 intervention participants who provided video feedback, 43 (96%) found the video helpful, 40 (89%) were comfortable viewing the video, and 42 (93%) indicated they would recommend the video to other patients facing similar decisions. Conclusions: Most AYAs with advanced cancer and their caregivers preferred life-prolonging care in advanced illness, with fewer preferring this type of care postintervention. A brief video-based ACP tool was well-liked by participants and improved caregiver decisional certainty. Videos may be a useful tool to inform AYAs and caregivers about end-of-life care options and promote ACP discussions.

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Cross-Sectional Analysis of the Associations Between Four Common Cancers and Disability

Lisa I. Iezzoni, Sowmya R. Rao, Nicole D. Agaronnik, and Areej El-Jawahri

Background: Approximately 61 million Americans have a disability. Little research has explored whether disability is associated with subsequent diagnosis of cancer, the second-leading cause of death in the United States. The objective of this study was to explore associations between cancer and disability, focusing on 4 cancers that may present with nonspecific symptoms that could be conflated with aspects of disability, thus delaying cancer diagnoses. An analysis of a nationally representative survey using sampling weights to produce national estimates was performed. Methods: Civilian, noninstitutionalized US residents responding to the 2010–2017 National Health Interview Surveys totaling 259,392 Sample Adult Core survey respondents were included. We used self-reported functional status limitations to identify persons with movement difficulties (MD), complex activity limitations (CAL), and no disability. Multivariable regressions predicting cancer diagnosis included sociodemographic characteristics, tobacco use, body mass index, access to care indicators, and disability status. Results: Persons with preexisting disability had significantly higher rates of cancer (ranging from 0.40 [SE, 0.05] for ovarian to 3.38 [0.14] for prostate) than did those without disability (0.20 [0.02] and 1.26 [0.04] for the same cancers; all P<.0001). Multivariable analyses found strong associations of preexisting MD and CAL with colorectal cancer, with adjusted odds ratios (aORs) of 1.5 (95% CI, 1.2–1.9) and 1.9 (1.5–2.4), respectively. For non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, the aOR for CAL was 1.5 (1.1–2.1). For prostate cancer, aORs for MD were 1.2 (1.0–1.3) and 1.1 (1.0–1.3) for CAL. Using cross-sectional survey data, we could only identify statistical associations, not causality. Conclusions: Our population-based analyses suggest that persons with disability may constitute a high-risk population, with higher cancer incidence. Optimizing appropriate screening and fully investigating new signs and symptoms are therefore critical for patients with disability.

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Healthcare Utilization and End-of-Life Outcomes in Patients Receiving CAR T-Cell Therapy

P. Connor Johnson, Caron Jacobson, Alisha Yi, Anna Saucier, Tejaswini M. Dhawale, Ashley Nelson, Mitchell W. Lavoie, Mathew J. Reynolds, Carlisle E.W. Topping, Matthew J. Frigault, and Areej El-Jawahri

Background: CAR T-cell therapy has revolutionized the treatment of patients with hematologic malignancies, but it can result in prolonged hospitalizations and serious toxicities. However, data on the impact of CAR T-cell therapy on healthcare utilization and end-of-life (EoL) outcomes are lacking. Methods: We conducted a retrospective analysis of 236 patients who received CAR T-cell therapy at 2 tertiary care centers from February 2016 through December 2019. We abstracted healthcare utilization and EoL outcomes from the electronic health record, including hospitalizations, receipt of ICU care, hospitalization and receipt of systemic therapy in the last 30 days of life, palliative care, and hospice referrals. Results: Most patients (81.4%; n=192) received axicabtagene ciloleucel. Overall, 28.1% of patients experienced a hospital readmission and 15.5% required admission to the ICU within 3 months of CAR T-cell therapy. Among the deceased cohort, 58.3% (49/84) were hospitalized and 32.5% (26/80) received systemic therapy in the last 30 days of life. Rates of palliative care and hospice referrals were 47.6% and 30.9%, respectively. In multivariable logistic regression, receipt of bridging therapy (odds ratio [OR], 3.15; P=.041), index CAR-T hospitalization length of stay >14 days (OR, 4.76; P=.009), hospital admission within 3 months of CAR T-cell infusion (OR, 4.29; P=.013), and indolent lymphoma transformed to diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (OR, 9.83; P=.012) were associated with likelihood of hospitalization in the last 30 days of life. Conclusions: A substantial minority of patients receiving CAR T-cell therapy experienced hospital readmission or ICU utilization in the first 3 months after CAR T-cell therapy, and most deceased recipients of CAR T-cell therapy received intensive EoL care. These findings underscore the need for interventions to optimize healthcare delivery and EoL care for this population.

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Relationship Between Perceptions of Treatment Goals and Psychological Distress in Patients With Advanced Cancer

Areej El-Jawahri, Deborah Forst, Alyssa Fenech, Keri O. Brenner, Amanda L. Jankowski, Lauren Waldman, Isabella Sereno, Ryan Nipp, Joseph A. Greer, Lara Traeger, Vicki Jackson, and Jennifer Temel

Background: Studies have shown gaps in prognostic understanding among patients with cancer. However, few studies have explored patients’ perceptions of their treatment goals versus how they perceive their oncologist’s goals, and the association of these views with their psychological distress. Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional study of 559 patients with incurable lung, gastrointestinal, breast, and brain cancers. The Prognosis and Treatment Perception Questionnaire was used to assess patients’ reports of their treatment goal and their oncologist’s treatment goal, and the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale was used to assess patients’ psychological symptoms. Results: We found that 61.7% of patients reported that both their treatment goal and their oncologist’s treatment goal were noncurative, whereas 19.3% reported that both their goal and their oncologist’s goal were to cure their cancer, 13.9% reported that their goal was to cure their cancer whereas their oncologist’s goal was noncurative, and 5% reported that their goal was noncurative whereas their oncologist’s goal was curative. Patients who reported both their goal and their oncologist’s goal as noncurative had higher levels of depression (B=0.99; P=.021) and anxiety symptoms (B=1.01; P=.015) compared with those who reported that both their goal and their oncologist’s goal was curative. Patients with discordant perceptions of their goal and their oncologist’s goal reported higher anxiety symptoms (B=1.47; P=.004) compared with those who reported that both their goal and their oncologist’s goal were curative. Conclusions: One-fifth of patients with incurable cancer reported that both their treatment goal and their oncologist’s goal were to cure their cancer. Patients who acknowledged the noncurative intent of their treatment and those who perceived that their treatment goal was discordant from that of their oncologist reported greater psychological distress.

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Mobile Technology-Based (mLearning) Intervention to Enhance Breast Cancer Clinicians' Communication About Sexual Health: A Pilot Trial

Jennifer Barsky Reese, Lauren A. Zimmaro, Sharon L. Bober, Kristen Sorice, Elizabeth Handorf, Elaine Wittenberg, Areej El-Jawahri, Mary Catherine Beach, Antonio C. Wolff, Mary B. Daly, Brynna Izquierdo, and Stephen J. Lepore

Background: Most breast cancer clinicians lack training to counsel patients about sexual concerns. The purpose of this study was to assess the feasibility, acceptability, and preliminary effects of a mobile learning (mLearning) intervention (improving Sexual Health and Augmenting Relationships through Education [iSHARE]) aimed at enhancing breast cancer clinicians’ knowledge of, beliefs about, and comfort with discussing patients’ sexual health concerns. Methods: Clinicians listened to a 2-part educational podcast series offering information on breast cancer–related sexual health concerns and effective communication on the topic, which consisted of interviews with expert guests. Intervention feasibility was assessed through rates of enrollment, retention, and intervention completion, with benchmarks of 40%, 70%, and 60%, respectively. Acceptability was assessed through program evaluations, with 75% of clinicians rating the intervention favorably (eg, relevance, satisfaction) signifying acceptability. Clinicians self-reported their knowledge about breast cancer–related sexual health concerns, beliefs (ie, self-efficacy for discussing sexual health concerns), and comfort with discussing sexual concerns measured at preintervention and postintervention. Qualitative analysis examined clinicians’ perceptions of lessons learned from the intervention. Results: A total of 32 breast cancer clinicians enrolled (46% of those invited; 97% of those who responded and screened eligible), 30 (94%) completed both the intervention and study surveys, and 80% rated the intervention favorably, demonstrating feasibility and acceptability. Results showed positive trends for improvement in clinician knowledge, beliefs, and comfort with discussing sexual health concerns. Clinicians reported key lessons learned, including taking a proactive approach to discussing sexual health concerns, normalizing the topic, addressing vaginal health, sending the message that help is available, and assessing sexual health concerns with patients from different backgrounds. Conclusions: Breast cancer clinicians were amenable to participating in the iSHARE intervention and found it useful. iSHARE showed promise for improving clinician’s knowledge and comfort discussing patients’ sexual health concerns. A larger trial is required to demonstrate efficacy. Future studies should also examine whether iSHARE can improve patient–clinician communication and address patients’ sexual concerns.

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Functional Impairment, Symptom Burden, and Clinical Outcomes Among Hospitalized Patients With Advanced Cancer

Daniel E. Lage, Areej El-Jawahri, Charn-Xin Fuh, Richard A. Newcomb, Vicki A. Jackson, David P. Ryan, Joseph A. Greer, Jennifer S. Temel, and Ryan D. Nipp

Background: National guidelines recommend regular measurement of functional status among patients with cancer, particularly those who are elderly or high-risk, but little is known about how functional status relates to clinical outcomes among hospitalized patients with advanced cancer. The goal of this study was to investigate how functional impairment is associated with symptom burden and healthcare utilization and clinical outcomes. Patients and Methods: We conducted a prospective observational study of patients with advanced cancer with unplanned hospitalizations at Massachusetts General Hospital from September 2014 through March 2016. Upon admission, nurses assessed patients’ activities of daily living (ADLs; mobility, feeding, bathing, dressing, and grooming). Patients with any ADL impairment on admission were classified as having functional impairment. We used the revised Edmonton Symptom Assessment System (ESAS-r) and Patient Health Questionnaire-4 to assess physical and psychological symptoms, respectively. Multivariable regression models were used to assess the relationships between functional impairment, hospital length of stay, and survival. Results: Among 971 patients, 390 (40.2%) had functional impairment. Those with functional impairment were older (mean age, 67.18 vs 60.81 years; P<.001) and had a higher physical symptom burden (mean ESAS physical score, 35.29 vs 30.85; P<.001) compared with those with no functional impairment. They were also more likely to report moderate-to-severe pain (74.9% vs 63.1%; P<.001) and symptoms of depression (38.3% vs 23.6%; P<.001) and anxiety (35.9% vs 22.4%; P<.001). Functional impairment was associated with longer hospital length of stay (β = 1.29; P<.001) and worse survival (hazard ratio, 1.73; P<.001). Conclusions: Hospitalized patients with advanced cancer who had functional impairment experienced a significantly higher symptom burden and worse clinical outcomes compared with those without functional impairment. These findings provide evidence supporting the routine assessment of functional status on hospital admission and using this to inform discharge planning, discussions about prognosis, and the development of interventions addressing patients’ symptoms and physical function.

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Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial of an Educational Video for CAR T-Cell Therapy Recipients

P. Connor Johnson, Tejaswini Dhawale, Richard A. Newcomb, Ana Barata, Kyle Karpinski, Mitchell W. Lavoie, Dagny Vaughn, Kathleen Hennessey, David Schneider, Hermioni L. Amonoo, Angelo Volandes, and Areej El-Jawahri

Background: CAR T-cell therapy has transformed the treatment of hematologic malignancies, but it is complex and challenging to convey to patients. Educational video interventions are efficacious for improving patient knowledge about cancer therapeutics and informing their care preferences, yet no educational videos have been evaluated in CAR T-cell therapy. Methods: We conducted a randomized controlled trial comparing an educational video versus usual care in adults (age ≥18 years) with hematologic malignancies receiving CAR T-cell therapy at Massachusetts General Hospital. Intervention participants watched a 13-minute video depicting how CAR T-cell therapy works, logistics, toxicities, prognosis, recovery, and approaches for dealing with prognostic uncertainty. The primary outcome was feasibility (≥60% enrollment rate). Secondary outcomes included acceptability (≥80% reporting comfort with the video), patients’ knowledge about CAR T-cell therapy (10-item test), and self-efficacy (Communication and Attitudinal Self-Efficacy Scale–Cancer), decision satisfaction (Decision Conflict Scale), psychological distress (Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale), and preference for CAR T-cell therapy. Results: We enrolled 79% (80/101) of eligible patients. Of that group, 91% (30/33) reported being very or somewhat comfortable watching the video, and 94% (31/33) would definitely or probably recommend the video. At 1 month, participants in the video arm reported higher self-efficacy (mean difference [MD], 9.2 [95% CI, –4.0 to 22.3]; Cohen’s d, 0.32), decision satisfaction (MD, 2.5 [95% CI, 0.7–4.2]; Cohen’s d, 0.67), and lower anxiety (MD, –0.8 [95% CI, –2.5 to 0.7]; Cohen’s d, 0.26) compared with participants in the usual care arm. At 1 week, both arms reported high preferences for CAR T-cell therapy (video arm, 94% [33/35]; usual care, 84% [27/32]). Conclusions: We found that an educational video for patients receiving CAR T-cell therapy was feasible and acceptable. The educational video demonstrated promising preliminary effects on patient self-efficacy and decision satisfaction and warrants further study.

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Relationship Between Longitudinal Coping Strategies and Outcomes in Patients With Acute Myeloid Leukemia

Hermioni L. Amonoo, Elizabeth Daskalakis, Emma C. Deary, Monica H. Bodd, Matthew J. Reynolds, Ashley M. Nelson, Richard Newcomb, Tejaswini M. Dhawale, Daniel Yang, Selina M. Luger, Jillian L. Gustin, Andrew Brunner, Amir T. Fathi, Thomas W. LeBlanc, and Areej El-Jawahri

Background: Patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) face an abrupt life-threatening illness and experience immense physical and psychological symptoms. However, no data describe how patients with AML cope longitudinally with their illness or the relationship between longitudinal coping and outcomes. Methods: We conducted a secondary analysis of longitudinal data from 160 patients with high-risk AML enrolled in a supportive care intervention trial to describe coping strategies longitudinally across the illness course. We used the Brief COPE questionnaire, the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale, the Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Checklist-Civilian Version, and the Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-Leukemia to measure coping strategies, psychological distress, and quality of life (QoL) at baseline and at weeks 2, 4, 12, and 24 after diagnosis. Electronic health records were used to assess healthcare utilization and end-of-life (EoL) outcomes, and multivariate analyses were used to assess the relationship between coping and outcomes. Results: Longitudinal utilization of approach-oriented coping strategies was significantly associated with less distress (anxiety: β, –0.18; P<.001; depression symptoms: β, –0.42; P<.001; PTSD symptoms: β, –0.60; P<.001) and better QoL (β, 2.00; P<.001). Longitudinal utilization of avoidant coping strategies was significantly associated with greater distress (anxiety: β, 0.64; depression symptoms: β, 0.54; PTSD symptoms: β, 2.13; P<.001 for all) and worse QoL (β, –4.27; P<.001). Although the use of approach-oriented and avoidant coping strategies was not significantly associated with hospitalization, chemotherapy administration, or hospice use in the last 30 days of life, approach-oriented coping was associated with lower odds of ICU admissions (odds ratio, 0.92; P=.049). Conclusions: Longitudinal use of approach-oriented coping strategies was associated with less psychological distress, better QoL, and a lower likelihood of ICU admission, suggesting a possible target for supportive oncology interventions. Coping strategies did not impact EoL outcomes, and further research is needed to elucidate which patient factors impact EoL decision-making.

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Screening Tool Identifies Older Adults With Cancer at Risk for Poor Outcomes

Ryan D. Nipp, Leah L. Thompson, Brandon Temel, Charn-Xin Fuh, Christine Server, Paul S. Kay, Sophia Landay, Daniel E. Lage, Lara Traeger, Erin Scott, Vicki A. Jackson, Nora K. Horick, Joseph A. Greer, Areej El-Jawahri, and Jennifer S. Temel

Background: Oncologists often struggle with managing the complex issues unique to older adults with cancer, and research is needed to identify patients at risk for poor outcomes. Methods: This study enrolled patients aged ≥70 years within 8 weeks of a diagnosis of incurable gastrointestinal cancer. Patient-reported surveys were used to assess vulnerability (Vulnerable Elders Survey [scores ≥3 indicate a positive screen for vulnerability]), quality of life (QoL; EORTC Quality of Life of Cancer Patients questionnaire [higher scores indicate better QoL]), and symptoms (Edmonton Symptom Assessment System [ESAS; higher scores indicate greater symptom burden] and Geriatric Depression Scale [higher scores indicate greater depression symptoms]). Unplanned hospital visits within 90 days of enrollment and overall survival were evaluated. We used regression models to examine associations among vulnerability, QoL, symptom burden, hospitalizations, and overall survival. Results: Of 132 patients approached, 102 (77.3%) were enrolled (mean [M] ± SD age, 77.25 ± 5.75 years). Nearly half (45.1%) screened positive for vulnerability, and these patients were older (M, 79.45 vs 75.44 years; P=.001) and had more comorbid conditions (M, 2.13 vs 1.34; P=.017) compared with nonvulnerable patients. Vulnerable patients reported worse QoL across all domains (global QoL: M, 53.26 vs 66.82; P=.041; physical QoL: M, 58.95 vs 88.24; P<.001; role QoL: M, 53.99 vs 82.12; P=.001; emotional QoL: M, 73.19 vs 85.76; P=.007; cognitive QoL: M, 79.35 vs 92.73; P=.011; social QoL: M, 59.42 vs 82.42; P<.001), higher symptom burden (ESAS total: M, 31.05 vs 15.00; P<.001), and worse depression score (M, 4.74 vs 2.25; P<.001). Vulnerable patients had a higher risk of unplanned hospitalizations (hazard ratio, 2.38; 95% CI, 1.08–5.27; P=.032) and worse overall survival (hazard ratio, 2.26; 95% CI, 1.14–4.48; P=.020). Conclusions: Older adults with cancer who screen positive as vulnerable experience a higher symptom burden, greater healthcare use, and worse survival. Screening tools to identify vulnerable patients should be integrated into practice to guide clinical care.