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Grant Details

Grant Number: 1R01CA276176-01A1 Interpret this number
Primary Investigator: Lazard, Allison
Organization: Univ Of North Carolina Chapel Hill
Project Title: Optimizing a Social Connectedness Intervention for Young Adults with Cancer
Fiscal Year: 2023


PROJECT SUMMARY/ABSTRACT Young adults with cancer need tailored behavioral interventions to improve their psychosocial health. Any cancer diagnosis in early adulthood can create debilitating life disruptions that increase social isolation that in turn can compromise psychosocial health. Social isolation also predicts mortality comparably to other well- established risk factors, including tobacco use, excessive alcohol consumption, obesity, and sedentary status. This conclusion—described as “unequivocal”—was established by a large-scale meta-analysis and now fuels the call for low-cost and scalable behavioral interventions optimized for vulnerable populations to increase social connectedness. The demand for such interventions is especially pressing for young adults with cancer, whose unique needs have long gone unmet. The broad, overarching objective of this work is to optimize an evidence-based social connectedness intervention for young adults with cancer and test whether it improves their psychosocial health. This intervention, delivered digitally and effective among young adults (noncancer samples), prompts individuals to increase the emotional quality of their in-person social encounters. Our multi- disciplinary team will carry out a rigorous, randomized controlled trial—the Keep Social RCT—using our simulated social media platform to deliver intervention messages optimized for young adults with cancer while collecting repeated measures of day-to-day experiences and psychosocial health outcomes. This program of research is designed to meet three specific aims. SPECIFIC AIM 1 is to optimize our social connectedness intervention for young adults with cancer. This aim will be met using a human-centered communication science approach to enhance the positive reception of health messages with social context cues (human imagery, peer stories), and conduct an online experiment with 400 young adults with cancer to identify the most effective intervention messages for use in the Keep Social RCT. SPECIFIC AIM 2 is to pilot, conduct, and analyze the Keep Social RCT to test whether our social connectedness intervention, delivered via social media, improves psychosocial health in young adults with cancer. After thorough pilot testing, this aim will be met by conducting our placebo controlled Keep Social RCT with repeated assessments over six weeks. These data will allow us to test whether our intervention raises social and emotional well-being (primary outcomes) and improves resilience and negative mental health symptoms (secondary outcomes). SPECIFIC AIM 3 is to extend data analyses of the AIM 2 Keep Social RCT to test theory-based mechanisms and explore moderators of intervention effectiveness to pave the way for further optimization. This aim will be met with statistical modeling to identify how and for whom our social connectedness intervention improves psychosocial health among young adults with cancer. Our multi-disciplinary team brings together expertise in social psychology, emotion science, communication science, and oncology to pursue these aims to produce translation-ready pragmatic knowledge to improve the quality of life among young adults with cancer in the United States.



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