More than 2.3 million people in the United States have overcome breast cancer. Nursing Professor Karen Meneses, Ph.D., is working to help the survivors living in rural areas improve the quality of their lives.
|Nursing Professor Karen Meneses recently received a $2.6 million grant from the National Cancer Institute to evaluate means of support and assistance for rural women who are most likely to struggle as they transition back to their lives after treatment.
Meneses, the associate dean of research for the UAB School of Nursing, received a five-year, $2.6 million grant from the National Cancer Institute to evaluate means of support and assistance for rural women who are most likely to struggle as they transition back to their lives during the first few years after treatment.
“It is important for us to know how to help these women because no matter how much we extend peoples lives through our medical breakthroughs, we must work daily to help them maintain their quality of life,” Meneses says.
“In this case, it means women being able to enjoy their lives beyond diagnosis.”
Access lacking in rural areas
Research shows that women living in rural areas lack access to health-care providers and survivor services such as support groups. This study will provide the structure and content for ensuring rural breast-cancer survivors receive information and support they need.
Participants fall into one of three categories: Those born, raised and living in a particular area; those who relocated from another part of the country; and those living part-time in a rural area and part-time in another state, such as those who come from the Northeast to live in Florida during the winter.
The participants of the study, all of whom live in rural Florida, will be sent materials to read and review. A series of three telephone interviews will follow. The first group of discussions revolves around lingering physical issues following treatment, including fatigue, swelling of their arm after treatment, neuropathies and menopausal symptoms.
The second set of questions focuses on relationship changes in the workplace and with family or friends. Researchers will talk with survivors about the changes they are undergoing that their family and friends may not necessarily see and will help them cope and manage those relationships.
Finally, survivors will talk with researchers about the guidelines for follow-up care and other health issues.
“We tend to see that women who live outside an area with an acute-care center and don’t necessarily live within an urban setting tend to fall through the cracks in terms of follow-up care,” Meneses says. “Some of that is due to insurance issues. Some women can’t get out of their work setting even if they wanted to because they need the health insurance for their follow-up care.”