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Factors contributing to psychosocial well-being for individuals and couples after cancer
Distress, resilience and coping for cancer survivors
Couple-based interventions for cancer survivors
Patient-clinician communication about sexual health in cancer
Development and evaluation of behavioral interventions in cancer
Work in our lab centers on developing evidence-based interventions that aim to improve sexual health outcomes, relationships, and quality of life for those affected by cancer. We incorporate a diverse range of study designs and methods, including qualitative methodology, survey methods, communication analysis, and randomized controlled trials, which yield a deep understanding of the problems under investigation and thus help us develop feasible, acceptable, and effective interventions. Our research studies are funded by the National Cancer Institute and American Cancer Society.
Work in our lab investigates the factors contributing to cancer survivors’ psychosocial well-being and ability to cope with after-effects of cancer, with a focus on cancer-related sexual concerns. Research in our lab has demonstrated that impairments in sexual quality of life are common, distressing, and often persist if unaddressed. Findings have also illuminated the key role that cancer survivors’ intimate relationships play in survivors’ psychosocial well-being. Collectively, work in this area has contributed to the understanding of the prevalence and nature of sexual concerns for those diagnosed and treated for cancer, thus helping to pave the way feasible, acceptable, and potentially effective interventions.
Other related research is concerned with examining distress and resilience in cancer survivors. In a current pilot study, we are currently examining relationships among distress, resilience, and inflammatory biomarkers and effects of racial background in a sample of colorectal cancer patients. In this vein, work in our lab has helped clarify the understanding of how patients perceive benefit from their cancer diagnosis, including finding gratitude and cultivating acceptance. Future projects will build on these findings, with the aim of developing evidence-based interventions to reduce distress, enhance resilience, and improve survivors’ quality of life.
In addressing the many issues that confront cancer survivors, interpersonal relationships play a critical role, and our lab has interest in developing and evaluating couple-based interventions for cancer-related health concerns, foremost of which are sexuality and intimacy. A key objective of this work is to identify how best to help couples cope. In earlier work, we elucidated a model of coping flexibly with sexual concerns in cancer that influenced subsequent intervention development. We have found promising effects of couple-based approaches for addressing sexual concerns and enhancing intimacy and related outcomes in breast and colorectal cancer, and are currently evaluating this approach in a clinical trial. We are also extending this line of research to women with metastatic breast cancer, about whom little is known with respect to their sexual and intimacy needs and who are in particular need of survivorship-related interventions. We plan to continue this work by determining optimal methods for dissemination of these approaches, once determined effective, and by assessing the utility of couple-based approaches in enhancing other outcomes in cancer populations in future studies.
An additional major area of interest in our lab is to investigate patient-provider communication about sexual health after cancer, with the ultimate aim of integrating sexual health within cancer care. Our work in this area has been instrumental in characterizing the prevalence and nature of patient-provider communication about sexual health in cancer, elucidating patient and provider barriers and facilitators of this communication, and identifying potential paths forward to improve clinical care for sexual concerns. This work is culminating in innovative provider-focused and patient-focused interventions which hold promise for integrating sexual health into cancer care and enhancing patients’ psychosocial outcomes.
Reese J.B., Sorice K.A., Pollard W., Handorf E., Beach M.C., Daly M.B., Porter L.S., Tulsky J.A., Lepore S.J., Efficacy of a multimedia intervention in facilitating breast cancer patients' clinical communication about sexual health: Results of a randomized controlled trial. Psychooncology. 30(5): 681-690, 2021. PMC8113064. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/33305520.
Reese, J.B., Sorice, K., Pollard, W., Handorf, E., Beach, M.C., Daly, M.B., Porter, L.S., Tulsky, J.A., & Lepore, S.J. (In Press). Efficacy of a Multimedia Intervention in Enhancing Breast Cancer Patients’ Clinical Communication about Sexual Health: Results of a Randomized Controlled Trial. Psycho-Oncology.
Zimmaro, L.A., Deng, M., Handorf, E., Fang, C. Denlinger, C., & Reese, J.B. (In Press). Understanding benefit finding among patients with colorectal cancer: A longitudinal study. Supportive Care in Cancer.
Reese, J.B., Sorice, K.A., Pollard, W., Zimmaro, L.A., Beach, M.C., Handorf, E., & Lepore, S.J. (2020). Understanding sexual help-seeking for women with breast cancer: What distinguishes women who seek help from those who do not? Journal of Sexual Medicine, 17, 1729-1739.
Reese, J.B., Sorice, K.A., Zimmaro, L., Lepore, S.J., Beach, M.C. (2020). Communication about Sexual Health in Breast Cancer: What Can We Learn from Patients’ Self-Report and Clinical Dialogue? Patient Education and Counseling, 103, 1821-1829.
Zimmaro, L.A., Lepore, S.J., Beach, M.C., & Reese, J.B. (2020). Patients' Perceived Barriers to Discussing Sexual Health with Breast Cancer Healthcare Providers. Psycho-Oncology, 29, 1123-1131.
Reese, J.B., Zimmaro, L., Lepore, S.J., Sorice, K. A., Handorf, E., Daly, M.B., Schover, L.R., Kashy, D., Westbrook, K., & Porter, L.S. (2020). Evaluating a Couple-Based Intervention Addressing Sexual Concerns for Breast Cancer Survivors: Study Protocol for a Randomized Controlled Trial. Trials, 21, 173.
Reese, J.B., Sorice, K., Oppenheimer, N.M., Smith, K.C., Bober, S.L., Bantug, E.T., Schwartz, S.C., & Porter, L.S. (2020). Why Do Breast Cancer Survivors Decline a Couple-based Intimacy Enhancement Intervention Trial? Translational Behavioral Medicine, 10, 435-440.
Reese, J.B., Sorice, K., Lepore, S.J., Daly, M.B., Handorf, E.A., Tulsky, J.A., & Beach, M.C. (2019). A Brief Intervention to Enhance Breast Cancer Clinicians’ Communication about Sexual Health: Feasibility, Acceptability, and Preliminary Outcomes. Psycho-Oncology, 28, 872-9.
Reese, J.B., Sorice, K., Lepore, S.J., Daly, M.B., Tulsky, J.A., & Beach, M.C. (2019). Patient-Clinician Communication about Sexual Health in Breast Cancer: A Mixed-Methods Analysis of Clinic Dialogue. Patient Education and Counseling, 102, 436-442.
Reese, J.B., Smith, K.C., Handorf, E., Sorice, K., Bober, S.L., Bantug, E.T., Schwartz, S., Porter, L.S. (2019). A Randomized Pilot Trial of a Couple-Based Intervention Addressing Sexual Concerns for Breast Cancer Survivors. Journal of Psychosocial Oncology, 37, 242-263.
Kayser, K., Acquati, C., Reese, J.B., Karam, E., Wittman, D., Mark, K.P. (2018). A systematic review of dyadic studies examining relationship quality in couples facing colorectal cancer together. Psycho-Oncology, 27, 13-21.
Reese, J.B., Handorf, E. & Haythornthwaite, J.A. (2018). Sexual Quality of Life and Psychosocial Outcomes in Colorectal Cancer: A Longitudinal Study. Supportive Care in Cancer, 10, 3431-3440.
Reese, J.B., Lepore, S.J., Handorf, E., & Haythornthwaite, J.A. (2017). Emotional Approach Coping and Depressive Symptoms in Colorectal Cancer Patients: The Role of the Intimate Relationship. Journal of Psychosocial Oncology, 35, 578-596.
Reese, J.B., Beach, M.C., Smith, K.C, Bantug, E.T., Casale, K.E., Porter, L.S., Bober, S.L., Tulsky, J.A., Daly, M.B., Lepore, S.J. (2017). Effective Patient-Provider Communication about Sexual Concerns in Breast Cancer: A Qualitative Study. Supportive Care in Cancer, 25, 3199-3207.
Reese, J.B., Sorice, K., Beach, M.C., Porter, L.S., Tulsky, J.A., Daly, M.B., & Lepore, S.J. (2017). Patient-Provider Communication about Sexual Concerns in Cancer: A Systematic Review. Journal of Cancer Survivorship, 11, 175-188.
Reese, J.B., Bober, S.L., & Daly, M.B. (2017). Talking about Sexual Health for Women with Cancer: Why is it so Hard to Move the Needle? Cancer, 123, 4757-4763.
Reese, J.B., Porter, L.S., Casale, K., Bantug, E.T., Bober, S.L., Schwartz, S., Smith, K.C. (2016). Adapting a Telephone Couple-based Intimacy Enhancement Intervention to Breast Cancer: A Developmental Study. Health Psychology, 35, 1085-96.
Reese, J.B. & Haythornthwaite, J.A. (2016). Importance of Sexuality in Colorectal Cancer: Predictors, Changes, and Response to an Intimacy-Enhancement Intervention. Supportive Care in Cancer, 24, 4309-4317.
Barsky Reese, J., Porter, L.S., Regan, K.R., Keefe, F.J., Azad, N.S., Diaz, L.A. Jr., Herman, J.M., & Haythornthwaite, J.A. (2014). A randomized pilot trial of a telephone-based couples intervention for physical intimacy and sexual concerns in colorectal cancer. Psycho-Oncology, 23, 1005-13. PubMed
Reese, J.B., Finan, P., Haythornthwaite, J.A., Kadan, M., Regan, K.R., Herman, J.M., Efron, J., Diaz, L.A. Jr., & Azad, N.S. (2014). Gastrointestinal ostomies and sexual outcomes: A comparison of colorectal cancer patients by ostomy status. Supportive Care in Cancer, 22, 461-468. PubMed
Flynn, K.E., Reese, J.B., Jeffery, D.D., Lin, L., Shelby, R.A., Porter, L.S. Dombeck, C.B., & Weinfurt, K.P. (2012). Patient experiences with communication about sex during and following treatment for cancer. Psycho-Oncology, 21, 594-601. PubMed
Reese, J.B. Coping with sexual concerns after cancer. (2011). Current Opinion in Oncology, 23, 313-321. PubMed
Reese, J.B., Keefe, F.J., & Abernethy, A.P. (2010). Coping with sexual concerns after cancer: The use of flexible coping. Supportive Care in Cancer, 18, 785-800. PubMed
Reese, J.B., Shelby, R., Keefe, F. J., Porter, L.S. & Abernethy, A.P. (2010). Sexual concerns in cancer patients: A comparison of GI and Breast Cancer Patients. Supportive Care in Cancer, 18, 1179-1189. PubMed
Barsky, J., Friedman, M. & Rosen, R. (2006). Sexual dysfunction and chronic illness: The role of flexibility in coping. Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy, 32, 235-253. PubMed