• iCOPE - Interdisciplinary Curriculum for Oncology Palliative Education (September 2010 – August 2015)

In September 2010 the National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute awarded $1.5 million to the University of Louisville to develop an interdisciplinary oncology palliative care education program. The team working on the program includes representatives from the schools of medicine, nursing and social work and from the clinical pastoral education programs of three Louisville hospitals.

The curriculum will be designed to demonstrate palliative care's core principles by integrating the technical, scientific and humanistic elements of holistic care for cancer patients. It will include experiences that promote collaborative learning and teamwork and that broaden interdisciplinary awareness, combine innovative and proven learning modes and technologies and integrate interdisciplinary teaching approaches in both learning and the practice of palliative care.  This grant was submitted and is managed by the IPPCCI staff.

  • Aggressive Symptom Management in Lung Cancer Patients Using a Telehealth Device.

This program is funded by the Commonwealth of Kentucky Lung Cancer Research Program. It is a two-year study utilized participatory action research and evidenced-based literature to develop a telehealth nurse-coordinated algorithm to be used by lung cancer patients during active treatment. The intervention is now being tested. The feasibility and efficiency of the intervention as well as symptom burden and distress, quality of life, and satisfaction with symptom management of participating patients compared to a historical control will be evaluated.



  • Telehealth Symptom Management in Head and Neck Cancer.

Funded by the NCI, this randomized controlled trial developed and tested a telehealth intervention to improve symptom management and quality of life in patients undergoing treatment for head and neck cancers. Results indicate a significant difference in quality of life after treatment of patients in the treatment vs. control group. The intervention was found to be feasible and well-accepted by the treatment group and clinical staff. Results have been presented at the NCI (September 2008), the Supportive Oncology Conference (October 2008), the American Psychosocial Oncology Society’s Annual Meeting (February 2009), the Oncology Nursing Society’s Research Conference (February 2009) and the annual meeting of the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine (March 2009). An initial report on the study was published in Telemedicine and e-Health.

  • Medicaid Palliative Case Management.

Funded by the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, this study incorporated palliative care principles and practices into the operations of a Medicaid managed care provider. Case managers were trained via educational sessions and worked with an experienced palliative care nurse and social worker to implement palliative care approaches for patients with end-stage disease including lung, heart, renal, and liver disease and HIV. The training produced significant changes in the palliative care knowledge of the case managers and symptoms were shown to decline during the first month of palliative care case management. A case study report based on the intervention was published in Professional Case Management and initial results were presented at the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine’s annual meeting in 2006.

  • Cancer as a Chronic Disease.

Funded by the CDC, this pilot project provided evidence-based supportive services to women diagnosed with breast cancer receiving care at the JGBCC. The project was completed in November 2006. Quality of life was maintained for participants receiving the supportive services. In this sample of 99 patients, emotional problems were found to be the most significant predictor of overall distress. Results were presented at Research! Louisville and the Louisville Breast Cancer Annual Update conference in 2006.

  • Caring Connections Project.

Funded in part by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Caring Connections provided expanded case management services for advanced cancer patients receiving Medicaid through the provision of a Care Manager. Research design included evaluation of quality of life, satisfaction with healthcare services, and utilization patterns. This project was unique, as it was the first to offer palliative care management through a Medicaid managed care provider. Fifty patients were tracked for over two years. Results showed that participant’s overall quality of life and satisfaction with healthcare services remained stable throughout the trajectory of their life threatening illness. Results were published in Case Management.

  • Decision Case Method Teaching for Social Workers and Nurses.

Dr. Head participated in a Soros Foundation funded Project on Death in America study headed by Terry Wolfer, PhD. This project developed decision cases to be used to develop social workers clinical practice skills with dying patients and bereaved survivors. Dr. Head helped recruit cases from practicing social workers, interviewed social workers, and wrote two cases published in the final product. Subsequently, she received the U of L’s Paul Webber Teaching Award and was funded to work with senior nursing students to recruit and develop decision cases. Sixty cases were developed, many of which deal with palliative care and oncology scenarios. An article was published on Decision Case Method in the Journal of Social Work in End-of-Life & Palliative Care in 2008, and an article on the nursing project is undergoing final revisions for publication.

  • Socioeconomic Well-Being in Oncology.

For her dissertation, Dr. Head developed and validated a quality of life scale measuring socioeconomic well-being in patients with a cancer diagnosis. She published her results in Supportive Oncology in April 2008 and is currently planning further development and use of the scale.