Circles of Care: Supporting African Americans with Cancer

Patients with advanced cancer need supportive and palliative care in addition to cancer-specific treatments, to overcome pain, reduce psychological and spiritual distress, and meet practical needs. African Americans are more likely to have advanced cancer, yet less often get effective pain management, cancer communication, or supportive care. To overcome barriers for African Americans with cancer, health systems need community partners. Peer support reduces disparities in cancer prevention and early treatment; however, no intervention targets inequalities in advanced cancer.

Circles of Care are volunteer support teams for African Americans facing serious illness with cancer. After training, teams provide practical, emotional and spiritual support in a coordinated way. Teams typically form in churches or social networks; their formation and function are controlled by the wishes of the person with cancer. The Health-E NC grant funded a controlled study of the impact of Circles of Care volunteer support teams. The objective is to test the effect of volunteer support teams on cancer communication, quality of life and quality of supportive and palliative care for African Americans living with advanced cancer. We will recruit and train 40 support teams with 200 volunteers, to extend support to 40 African Americans with Stage III or IV lung, colorectal or breast cancer. We will use the RE-AIM framework to evaluate the intervention and generate pilot data for further research.

 Circles of Care Support Teams

Cancer Care Needs from a Physician Perspective

Principal Investigator: Laura C. Hanson, MD, MPH (PI)

Primary Funding Source: University Cancer Research Fund Health-e-NC, Duke Endowment

Total Project Period: 5/1/2008-12/30/2012