Circles of Care: Implementation and Evaluation of Support Teams for African Americans With Cancer

    loading  Checking for direct PDF access through Ovid

Abstract

Background. Community-based peer support may help meet the practical, emotional, and spiritual needs of African Americans with advanced cancer. Support teams are a unique model of peer support for persons facing serious illness, but research is rare. This study sought to (a) implement new volunteer support teams for African Americans with advanced cancer in two distinct regions and (b) evaluate support teams’ ability to improve support, awareness of services, and quality of life for these patients. Methods. The study used a pre–post design. Community and academic partners collaborated to implement volunteer support teams and evaluate the intervention using pre–post surveys of volunteers and patients. Patients who declined support teams were also interviewed as a comparison group. Results. Investigators enrolled and trained 130 volunteers who formed 25 support teams in two geographic regions. Volunteers supported 25 African American patients with advanced cancer (72%) or other diseases. After 2 months, patients with support teams reported fewer needs for practical, emotional, and spiritual support on a structured checklist. They more often communicated with someone about their cancer care needs (48% vs. 75%, p = .04), and were more aware of Hospice (4% vs. 25%, p = .04), but quality of life scores were unchanged. Comparison patients who refused a support team had fewer support needs at baseline and follow-up, suggesting that refusals were based on a lack of need. Conclusion. Coordinated volunteer support teams are a promising new model to provide peer support for African Americans facing cancer and other serious illnesses. Further testing in a pragmatic clinical trial is warranted.

Related Topics

    loading  Loading Related Articles