Publications by authors named "Karen M Fasciano"

10 Publications

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Patient, Family, and Clinician Perspectives on End-of-Life Care Quality Domains and Candidate Indicators for Adolescents and Young Adults With Cancer.

JAMA Netw Open 2021 08 2;4(8):e2121888. Epub 2021 Aug 2.

Division of Research, Kaiser Permanente Northern California, Oakland.

Importance: End-of-life care quality indicators specific to adolescents and young adults (AYAs) aged 12 to 39 years with cancer have not been developed.

Objective: To identify priority domains for end-of-life care from the perspectives of AYAs, family caregivers, and clinicians, and to propose candidate quality indicators reflecting priorities.

Design, Setting, And Participants: This qualitative study was conducted from December 6, 2018, to January 5, 2021, with no additional follow-up. In-depth interviews were conducted with patients, family caregivers, and clinicians and included a content analysis of resulting transcripts. A multidisciplinary advisory group translated priorities into proposed quality indicators. Interviews were conducted at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Kaiser Permanente Northern California, Kaiser Permanente Southern California, and an AYA cancer support community ( Participants included 23 AYAs, 28 caregivers, and 29 clinicians.

Exposure: Stage IV or recurrent cancer.

Main Outcomes And Measures: Care priorities.

Results: Interviews were conducted with 23 patients (mean [SD] age, 29.3 [7.3] years; 12 men [52%]; 18 White participants [78%]), 28 family caregivers (23 women [82%]; 14 White participants [50%]), and 29 clinicians (20 women [69%]; 13 White participants [45%]). Caregivers included 22 parents (79%), 5 spouses or partners (18%), and 1 other family member (4%); the 29 clinicians included 15 physicians (52%), 6 nurses or nurse practitioners (21%), and 8 social workers or psychologists (28%). Interviews identified 7 end-of-life priority domains: attention to physical symptoms, attention to quality of life, psychosocial and spiritual care, communication and decision-making, relationships with clinicians, care and treatment, and independence. Themes were consistent across the AYA age range and participant type. Although some domains were represented in quality indicators developed for adults, unique domains were identified, as well as AYA-specific manifestations of existing domains. For example, quality of life included global quality of life; attainment of life goals, legacy, and meaning; support of personal relationships; and normalcy. Within communication and decision-making, domains included communication early in the disease course, addressing prognosis and what to expect at the end of life, and opportunity for AYAs to hold desired roles in decision-making. Care and treatment domains relevant to cancer therapy, use of life-prolonging measures, and location of death emphasized the need for preference sensitivity rather than a standard path. This finding differs from existing adult indicators that propose that late-life chemotherapy, intensive measures, and hospital death should be rare.

Conclusions And Relevance: The findings of this qualitative study suggest that AYAs with cancer have priorities for care at the end of life that are not fully encompassed in existing indicators for adults. Use of new indicators for this young population may better reflect patient- and family-centered experiences of quality care.
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August 2021

The Development of a Bereavement Support Group Curriculum for Young Adults Dealing with the Death of a Partner: A Quality Improvement Project.

J Adolesc Young Adult Oncol 2021 06 6;10(3):260-265. Epub 2020 Nov 6.

Department of Psychosocial Oncology and Palliative Care, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.

Little is known about the bereavement needs of young adults (YAs) whose partners have died from cancer. Historically, research about the impact of widowhood has focused on adults in later life. We adapted a bereavement support group curriculum used with older adults to address the unique needs of younger bereaved partners. Applying a quality improvement framework, nine bereaved YAs whose partners had recently died participated in a 6-session bereavement support group program. The participants completed an evaluation and provided feedback throughout the program. The participants were six females and three males (30-43 years). The average time since the death of their partner was 7 months and four participants had dependent children. The participants evaluated the program highly, reporting they felt less isolated (4.75/5 on a 5-point Likert Scale); their concerns were similar to others (5/5); and the discussion topics were relevant to their situation (4.75/5). Additional topics for the next version of the curriculum included maintaining a relationship with in-laws, being a "solo parent," and dating. The participants also wanted the program to be extended given they had little contact with other bereaved partners. Based on this feedback, we converted the program into a drop-in group format meeting every 3 weeks, accepting new participants on a rolling basis. In parallel with the drop-in group, we plan to offer a revised 8-session bereavement support group twice a year. This pilot demonstrated that the bereavement support group curriculum for older bereaved adults was readily adapted for use with younger bereaved partners.
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June 2021

Early information needs of adolescents and young adults about late effects of cancer treatment.

Cancer 2020 07 4;126(14):3281-3288. Epub 2020 May 4.

Department of Pediatric Oncology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.

Background: Adolescent and young adult (AYA) cancer survivors have high risks of late effects. Little is known about the late-effect information needs of AYAs early in treatment or their role in treatment decision making. This study evaluated the importance, quality, and implications of information about late effects in AYAs recently diagnosed with cancer.

Methods: This study surveyed 201 AYAs with cancer who were 15 to 29 years old and were treated at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (Boston, Massachusetts). Patients were approached within 6 weeks of their diagnosis and were asked about their late-effect and infertility information needs, treatment decision making, and communication outcomes.

Results: Forty-five percent of the participants were female; 88% were white. Most AYAs (87% [173 of 200]) considered information about the risks of late effects to be extremely or very important; 80% (159 of 200) valued information about infertility. Many were distressed by information about late effects (53% [105 of 200]) and infertility (45% [89 of 200]); those who considered late-effect information distressing were more likely to value this information (P < .0001). Consideration of late effects (41% [82 of 201]) and infertility (36% [72 of 201]) greatly influenced many patients' treatment decision making. Although 92% of the patients (184 of 199) reported receiving high-quality information about the diagnosis, 57% (113 of 199; P < .0001) and 65% (130 of 199; P < .0001) felt that they had received high-quality information about late effects and infertility, respectively.

Conclusions: Most AYAs with cancer value early information about the risks of late effects and infertility, yet many patients felt that they had not received high-quality information about these topics. The development of age-appropriate late-effect communication strategies that recognize high AYA distress may help to address the gap between desired information and perceived information quality.
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July 2020

Peace of mind among adolescents and young adults with cancer.

Psychooncology 2020 03 11;29(3):572-578. Epub 2019 Dec 11.

Department of Pediatric Oncology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, Massachusetts.

Objective: Adolescents and young adults (AYAs) with cancer have high rates of psychological distress and unmet support needs. Peace of mind is an important construct among older cancer patients and parents of children with cancer but has not been explored in AYAs. We sought to evaluate the extent to which AYAs with cancer experience peace of mind and to identify factors associated with greater peace of mind.

Methods: We surveyed 193 AYAs with cancer aged 15 to 29 years within 12 weeks of diagnosis; 137 patients completed the same measures again 4 and 12 months after diagnosis. Patients were asked to report peace of mind, measured using items from the Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness, Spiritual Well-being scale (FACIT-Sp); anxiety and depression, using the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS); and experiences surrounding medical communication and decision making.

Results: Mean scores for peace of mind were 3.59 at diagnosis (range 1-5, standard deviation 0.84), with similar scores at 4 (3.53, P = .34) and 12 (3.59, P = .94) months. In a multivariable model adjusted for age and gender, patients who reported receiving high-quality information about their cancer had greater peace of mind at diagnosis (β = .25, P = .03), whereas those who reported holding a passive role in treatment decision making (β = -.47, P < .0001) or who had anxiety (β = -.64, P = .0003) or depression (β = -.51, P = .04) had lower peace of mind.

Conclusion: Peace of mind did not improve significantly over time for AYAs with cancer. While high-quality communication may be associated with heightened peace of mind, further study is needed to clarify relationships between peace of mind and other psychological variables.
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March 2020

Adolescent and Young Adult Cancer Patients' Experiences With Treatment Decision-making.

Pediatrics 2019 05;143(5)

Department of Psychosocial Oncology and Palliative Care, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, Massachusetts.

Background: Adolescents and young adults (AYAs) with cancer generally want to engage in decision-making but are not always able to do so. We evaluated cancer treatment decision-making among AYAs, including decisional engagement and regret.

Methods: We surveyed 203 AYA patients with cancer aged 15 to 29 (response rate 74%) treated at a large academic center and their oncologists. Patients were approached within 6 weeks of diagnosis and asked to report decision-making preferences and experiences (Decisional Roles Scale) and the extent to which they regretted their initial treatment decision (Decisional Regret Scale) assessed at baseline and 4 and 12 months later.

Results: A majority of AYAs (58%) wanted to share responsibility for decision-making with oncologists; half (51%) preferred limited involvement from parents. Although most AYAs held roles they preferred, those who did not reported holding more passive roles relative to oncologists ( < .0001) and parents ( = .002) than they desired. Nearly one-quarter of patients (24%; 47 of 195) experienced regret about initial cancer treatment decisions at baseline, with similar rates at 4 (23%) and 12 (19%) months. In a multivariable model adjusted for age, decisional roles were not associated with regret; instead, regret was less likely among patients who trusted oncologists completely (odds ratio 0.17 [95% confidence interval 0.06-0.46]; < .001) and who reported that oncologists understood what was important to them when treatment started (odds ratio 0.13 [95% confidence interval 0.04-0.42]; < .001).

Conclusions: Nearly one-fourth of AYA patients expressed regret about initial treatment decisions. Although some AYAs have unmet needs for decisional engagement, attributes of the patient-oncologist relationship, including trust and mutual understanding, may be most protective against regret.
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May 2019

Taking a "Snapshot": Evaluation of a Conversation Aid for Identifying Psychosocial Needs in Young Adults with Cancer.

J Adolesc Young Adult Oncol 2018 10 21;7(5):565-571. Epub 2018 May 21.

1 Department of Psychosocial Oncology and Palliative Care, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute , Boston, Massachusetts.

Purpose: Young adults (YAs) aged 18-35 years with cancer often experience unmet psychosocial needs. We aimed to evaluate a conversation aid ("Snapshot") that offered a framework for discussing YA-specific psychosocial concerns between patients and clinicians.

Methods: We developed and implemented Snapshot between 2014 and 2016 as part of a quality improvement initiative at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. We extracted pre- and postimplementation data from chart documentation of psychosocial concerns. YAs and social workers provided qualitative feedback on the use of Snapshot in clinical care.

Results: Postintervention chart reviews revealed a significant increase in the median number of topics documented in charts after implementation of Snapshot (preintervention median = 9 [range: 1-15] vs. postintervention median = 11 [range 6-15]; p = 0.003). Overall, YAs and social workers reported that using Snapshot improved communication and consistency of psychosocial care, with documented improvement in the following domains: understanding illness (p < 0.001), sexuality and intimacy (p = 0.03), symptom burden (p = 0.003), care planning (p < 0.001), support for caregivers and children (p = 0.02), and social, work, and home changes (p = 0.05).

Conclusion: Snapshot improved the quality of psychosocial needs assessment among YAs with cancer. Implementation was successful in reducing variability identified in the preintervention cohort and increasing the number of YA-specific psychosocial topics discussed. A standardized conversation aid has the potential to improve quality of care for YAs by enabling early identification and intervention of psychosocial issues for all patients.
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October 2018

Communication About Prognosis With Adolescent and Young Adult Patients With Cancer: Information Needs, Prognostic Awareness, and Outcomes of Disclosure.

J Clin Oncol 2018 06 23;36(18):1861-1867. Epub 2018 Apr 23.

Jennifer W. Mack, Karen M. Fasciano, and Susan D. Block, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute; and Jennifer W. Mack, Boston Children's Hospital, Boston, MA.

Purpose Communication about prognosis affects decisions patients and family members make about cancer care, and most patients say they want to know about their chances of cure. We sought to evaluate experiences with prognosis communication among adolescents and young adults (AYAs) with cancer. Patients and Methods We surveyed 203 AYAs with cancer age 15 to 29 years (response rate, 74%) treated at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and their oncologists. Patients were approached within 6 weeks of diagnosis and asked to report on their prognosis communication preferences and experiences, their beliefs about likelihood of cure, and psychosocial outcomes of communication, such as trust (using an item from the Trust in Physician Scale), peace of mind (using select items from the Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy-Spiritual Well-Being Scale), and anxiety and depression (using the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale). Oncologists were asked to report the patient's likelihood of cure. Results Most patients (83%, 167 of 203 patients) considered prognostic information to be extremely or very important. Patients who reported having received more extensive prognostic disclosure had higher odds of trust in the oncologist (odds ratio [OR], 1.30; 95% CI, 1.01 to 1.67; P = .05), peace of mind (OR, 2.13; 95% CI, 1.29 to 3.51; P = .002), and hope related to physician communication (OR, 1.27; 95% CI, 1.01 to 1.59; P = .04), after adjusting for patient sex, age, race or ethnicity, prognosis, and diagnosis. Disclosure was also associated with lower distress related to knowing about prognosis (OR, 0.65; 95% CI, 0.44 to 0.95; P = .03). However, a majority of patients (62%) reported prognostic estimates that exceeded those reported by physicians (McNemar P < .001). Conclusion Most AYAs with cancer value receiving prognostic information, which is positively associated with aspects of well-being. However, most overestimate chances of cure relative to oncologists, highlighting the importance of efforts to improve communication with this young population.
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June 2018

An Innovative Website in the United States for Meeting the Emotional and Supportive Care Needs of Young Adults with Cancer.

J Adolesc Young Adult Oncol 2015 Mar 25;4(1):44-9. Epub 2015 Feb 25.

4 Department of Medicine, Weill Cornell Medical College , New York, New York.

This paper describes the development of an institution-specific website designed to meet the supportive and emotional needs of young adults (18-39 years old) with cancer in the United States. The website contains information about topics of particular interest to young adults, coping skills education, and resources; and has social networking capacity. In a survey of website users, participants reported increased "connectedness" and variable impact on feelings of sadness, fear, and worry. Recommendations are made for fostering peer interactions, encouraging staff to educate website users around self-monitoring for distress, and incorporating relevant content on the website.
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March 2015

Mental health, treatment preferences, advance care planning, location, and quality of death in advanced cancer patients with dependent children.

Cancer 2009 Jan;115(2):399-409

Center for Psycho-Oncology and Palliative Care Research, Department of Medical Oncology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, Massachusetts 01225, USA.

Background: Clinicians observe that advanced cancer patients with dependent children agonize over the impact their death will have on their children. The objective of this study was to determine empirically whether advanced cancer patients with and without dependent children differ in treatment preferences, mental health, and end-of-life (EOL) outcomes.

Methods: Coping with Cancer is a National Cancer Institute/National Institute of Mental Health-funded, multi-institutional, prospective cohort study of 668 patients with advanced cancer. Patients with and without dependent children were compared on rates of psychiatric disorders, advance care planning (ACP), EOL care, quality of their last week of life, and location of death.

Results: In adjusted analyses, patients with advanced cancer who had dependent children were more likely to meet panic disorder criteria (adjusted odds ratio [AOR], 5.41; 95% confidence interval [95% CI], 2.13-13.69), more likely to be worried (mean difference in standard deviations [delta], 0.09; P=.006), and more likely to prefer aggressive treatment over palliative care (AOR, 1.77; 95% CI, 1.07-2.93). Patients with dependent children were less likely to engage in ACP (eg, do not resuscitate orders: AOR, 0.44; 95% CI, 0.26-0.75) and had a worse quality of life in the last week of life (delta, 0.15; P=.007). Among spousal caregivers, those with dependent children were more likely to meet criteria for major depressive disorder (AOR, 4.53; 95% CI, 1.47-14) and generalized anxiety disorder (AOR, 3.95; 95% CI, 1.29-12.16).

Conclusions: Patients with dependent children were more anxious, were less likely to engage in ACP, and were more likely to have a worse quality of life in their last week of life. Advanced cancer patients and spousal caregivers with dependent children represent a particularly distressed group that warrants further clinical attention, research, and support.
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January 2009

When a parent has cancer: a community based program for school personnel.

Psychooncology 2007 Feb;16(2):158-67

The Wellness Community of greater Boston, USA.

Little information has been published on interventions designed to help school personnel respond to challenges faced by a family dealing with parental cancer. The current study describes the development and piloting of a program that educated school professionals about cancer's impact on families, and effective ways of supporting families facing parental cancer. The program was implemented at four sites; 244 participants completed self-report questionnaires before and after the program assessing knowledge and anxiety about helping families. t-tests indicated that after the program, participants rated themselves as significantly more knowledgeable and confident about helping families with parental cancer. These differences represented large effect sizes. Post hoc comparisons revealed that initial knowledge and knowledge change varied by profession, having had personal experience with cancer, and having worked with several families facing cancer. Participants reported learning about how to reach out and listen to families' needs. These results are extremely encouraging; plans for further program refinements and evaluation are discussed.
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February 2007