Living with Lung Cancer: Receptivity and Preferences for Risk-Reducing Behavior Change among African-American Families (PI: McDonnell).

Funded by an ACS Institutional Research Grant, this second preliminary study was a descriptive, qualitative study aimed at enhancing the design and implementation of a multiple-behavior change intervention among African-American survivors of lung cancer and their family members (dyads).

This 12-month, two-site (Columbia and Greenville, SC) study met its recruitment goal of 26 African-American dyads (N = 52). The study supported existing evidence, with survivors describing (1) unresolved long-term symptoms (shortness of breath and fatigue); (2) continued smoking and (for most) rare or no exercise or formal stress-reduction strategies; and (3) receptivity to changing lifestyle behaviors (i.e., stopping smoking, becoming more physically active, managing stress), but needing help to do so safely at home with family members and friends. Survivors and family members had no clear preferences for accessing information about behavior changes.

When surveyed, participants indicated they did own a working television and cell phone, but not a working computer. Transportation is an issue for most survivors and family members; therefore, being able to access information or interventions from home is important. Participants shared feelings of loneliness and social isolation evoked by the lung cancer diagnosis coupled with encounters with other people’s fatalistic attitudes. Participants made it very clear that communication problems exist between patients and their health-care providers. One participant stated: “They [providers] think we understand what they’re trying to tell us. But most of us do not!”

This research clearly indicated that a plain-language, “low-literacy” approach is needed when communicating health information to lung cancer survivors and their family members.

Several abstracts and three manuscripts were developed and submitted based on this recently completed research:

  • McDonnell, K. K., Messias, D. K. H., Heiney, S., Friedman, D. B., Owens, O., & Campbell, C. (2015, July). Living with lung cancer: Receptivity and preferences for risk-reducing behavior among African American families. Paper presented at the Sigma Theta Tau 26th International Nursing Research Congress, San Juan, PR.
  • McDonnell, K. K., Messias, D. K. H., & Webb, L. (2015, October). Families facing lung cancer: Tensions and compromises. Poster presented at the Council for the Advancement of Nursing Science Annual Conference, Washington, DC.
  • McDonnell, K. K., Webb, L., & Messias, D. K. H. (2016, July). Not a death sentence: Perspectives from African-American women living with lung cancer [Abstract]. Presented at the Biennial Cancer Survivorship Research Conference, Washington, DC.