||5R01CA267107-02 Interpret this number
||Dana-Farber Cancer Inst
||Novel Health Equity Intervention to Improve Pediatric Oncology Outcome Disparities: Targeting Poverty and Psychosocial Stress
PROJECT SUMMARY / ABSTRACT
One in five U.S. children with cancer lives in poverty. These children have inferior psychosocial outcomes and
decreased survival compared to non-poor children with cancer, even when treated with the same clinical trial-
directed chemotherapy. We believe the explanation for these disparities is twofold: poor families not only have
unmet basic needs—quantified as Household Material Hardship (HMH)—they also experience toxic stress,
translating to anxiety, depression, poor cognition, and impaired caregiving abilities among parents, and measurable
biomarkers of inflammation among children. To address these factors, we first developed interventions targeting
either HMH or the resilience resources that buffer stress. The Pediatric Cancer Resource Equity (PediCARE)
intervention targets HMH via centrally-administered direct resource provision of groceries and transportation to
poverty-exposed families. In a randomized feasibility study, PediCARE was feasible, highly acceptable, and
associated with improved basic needs. However, it did not alleviate parental stress or distress. The Promoting
Resilience in Stress Management (PRISM) intervention targets four “resilience resources” to buffer stress utilizing
a centrally-administered, skills-based parent-coaching program known to mitigate toxic stress and improve coping.
In an RCT of parents of children with cancer, PRISM was associated with increased parent-resilience and goal-
oriented behavior. However, it worked less well among poverty-exposed parents. Now, we propose a novel Health
Equity Intervention (HEI) that will combine PediCARE and PRISM to target both unmet basic needs and caregiver
resilience. We will test this HEI among parents of children with high-risk neuroblastoma because poverty-exposure
in this disease is associated with significantly inferior child survival and these parents report high, sustained
psychological distress that impairs their ability to care for their child. We will leverage a once-in-a-decade
opportunity to integrate this trial into the larger Children’s Oncology Group chemo-immunotherapy trial ANBL2131,
thus ensuring wide-spread enrollment, robust project infrastructure, and clinically meaningful outcomes. N=114
HMH-exposed children enrolled on ANBL2131 will be randomized 1:1 to receive the novel HEI or usual care from
the start of therapy through end-induction (6-months). Specifically, we aim to: (1a) Identify HEI efficacy in improving
parent anxiety (primary outcome), depression, cognitive function, resilience, and HMH (secondary outcomes) at 6-
months; (1b) Explore the HEI’s impact on parent biomarkers of inflammation; (2a) Explore the HEI’s impact on child
response-to-induction therapy and survival; and (2b) Explore the HEI’s impact on child biomarkers of inflammation
and oxidative stress. We hypothesize that the HEI will improve parent-centered outcomes and anticipate proof-of-
concept that it improves child outcomes and parent-/child-biomarkers. We have an outstanding multidisciplinary
team of experts who have worked together for years. This trial has the potential to narrow a previously intractable
health disparity and improve childhood cancer outcomes. Moreover, it will inform care and health equity research
by directly addressing social determinants known to drive outcome disparities in both adult and pediatric cancer.
Indicators of developmental status among adolescents and young adults with cancer: Perceived adult status, social milestones, and health-related quality of life.
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Psycho-oncology, 2023 Sep; 32(9), p. 1363-1371.
"It's a lot of things": Household material hardship among Black and Hispanic parents of children with cancer.
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Pediatric blood & cancer, 2023-06-13; , p. e30485.