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Miriam Hospital’s Groundbreaking Breast Cancer Study

Monday, November 22, 2010


Researchers at The Miriam Hospital are leading a new study in collaboration with the American Cancer Society (ACS) that offers a unique opportunity for local breast cancer survivors to give back to the community by guiding others through treatment and recovery, while also helping researchers learn more about what type of exercise might be most beneficial to cancer patients.

First of its Kind

“The role of peer support for patients diagnosed with chronic disease can be a powerful tool for behavior change,” said Bernardine M. Pinto, Ph.D., a professor (research) of psychiatry and human behavior at The Miriam Hospital and the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, who is leading the study. Pinto explained that unlike a traditional doctor-patient relationship, peers can provide support for patient perspectives on illness and its management, who in this case are the Miriam Hospital trained Reach to Recovery volunteers who themselves have been treated for breast cancer. In Moving Forward Together 2, volunteer coaches/survivors deliver a telephone-based physical activity intervention to women requesting Reach services or survivors who have received prior ACS services. Said Pinto, “Peers who have been there can provide emotional support and information to other patients going through treatment or those who are recovering from treatment.” Pinto added that as far as she knows, the study is the first partnership with community volunteers to promote exercise among breast cancer survivors nationwide.

How It Works

Researchers will assess physical activity, fatigue and other outcomes throughout the program. If the physical activity program is found to be effective, there is a potential for dissemination among the 13,000 Reach to Recovery volunteers across the country. Pinto says the program is looking to recruit 108 participants (diagnosed with breast cancer in the past 5 years) and 15-20 coaches (Reach to Recovery volunteers). Breast cancer survivor Stacey Snow, who is volunteering as a coach, has been trained to help other women fight the same battle she has fought, but has already found participating in the program persoanlly rewarding. “What was unexpected for me was that the training that I received to be an exercise coach and being a coach has been so helpful for me in other areas of my life,” said Snow. “It has made me a better listener and a better friend and helped me in other relationships.”

Moving Forward Together 2 is funded by the National Cancer Institute. For more information about this study, please contact Gail Agronick, Ph.D., at 793-8162 or gagronick@lifespan.org.


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