SHARE: Spouses Coping with the Head and Neck Radiation Experience
Patients treated with radiation (XRT) for head and neck cancers (HNCs) experience significant side effects such as abnormally reduced salivation, difficulty swallowing, and taste changes even after they have been definitively treated. To control side effects and minimize discomfort, intensive self-care protocols are prescribed, but adherence is poor. Partners (spouses/significant others) can play a critical role in supporting adherence, but often lack knowledge, experience high rates of distress, and display poor communication (e.g., critical or controlling), that can interfere with patient self-care.
We have developed a home-based couples skills-training intervention called SHARE that teaches:
- Self-management skills to control/prevent side-effects
- Communication skills to facilitate coordination of care and support
- Strategies to improve communal coping and confidence in the ability to work as a team.
The goal is to reduce healthcare utilization and improve multiple domains of patient and partner QOL.
Specific aims are:
- To develop and evaluate the content and materials of the SHARE intervention and
- To evaluate the feasibility and acceptability of the SHARE intervention
SHARE is the first program in HNC that actively involves both members of the couple to address barriers in the home environment in which coping and self-management occurs. It conceptualizes the couple relationship as a resource and leverages that resource to improve patient care and outcomes.
Overall, CST holds great promise for improving patient self-management behaviors, reducing costly hospitalizations and treatment interruptions, and improving multiple aspects of patient and partner quality of life.
This project is supported by R21CA178478. ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT02409485