Researcher at UTA investigating Stress in African-American prostate cancer patients and spouses

Monday, Apr 12, 2021

Yue Liao MPH PhD CPH

In partnership with The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, researcher Yue Liao, MPH, PhD, CPH in UTA’S College of Nursing and Health Innovation is investigating the stress that Black prostate cancer patients and their partners are facing in everyday life, how they cope, and how their health behaviors might be impacted. A new grant funded by the National Institutes of Health is supporting this effort to conduct ecological momentary assessments, or brief surveys throughout the day, to get a snapshot into the life of these cancer patients and their spouses.

“This project is about better understanding our African American cancer patients and their spouses’ daily experience after cancer treatment, in order to develop culturally tailored interventions that could help them cope with stress due to cancer diagnosis and adopt a healthier lifestyle,” shared Liao.

The project is titled, “One Plus One Can Be Greater than Two: Ecological Momentary Assessment for Black Prostate Cancer Survivors and Partners.” According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, African American men are more likely to get prostate cancer than other men and are twice as likely to die from prostate cancer as other men.

“The disparity in cancer was always there, but now we are paying more attention about it and trying to address it. We know the Black male community has the highest burden of prostate cancer, and it is alarming. We want to be able to inform interventions that can improve their health outcomes after cancer diagnosis and treatment, as it is critically important for this population.”

Originally delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the project is now in starting up as the research team has entered the recruitment phase. One unique aspect of this project is the amount of data that can be collected now through smart phones.

“Years ago, we would not be able to seamlessly ask participants throughout the day about their experiences, so it really is the right time with the increased access to mobile technology,” said Liao. “We are not only able to collect information regarding the patient himself, but also what is happening to his spouse, thus allowing the investigation of dynamics in stress, coping, and behaviors within the couple.”

Liao is also an assistant professor teaching public health in the Department of Kinesiology within the College. The study is led by Dr. Dalnim Cho from MD Anderson, Department of Health Disparities Research, Division of Cancer Prevention and Population Sciences.