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Care Partners: Web-based Support for Caregivers of Veterans Undergoing Chemotherapy

This study has been completed.
Michigan State University
University of Michigan
Information provided by (Responsible Party):
VA Office of Research and Development Identifier:
First received: September 22, 2009
Last updated: February 29, 2016
Last verified: February 2016
Given the growing strain on the Veterans Administration resulting from increasing caseloads of cancer patients, interventions are badly needed that assist patients in managing their illness, improve quality of life and avoid acute episodes that result in urgent care use and increased mortality. Previous studies have found that cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy can effectively manage their own symptoms when monitored using automated telephone calls. Such technology, however, may challenge the number of Veterans who lack social support and/or independence. The goal was to develop and test a technology that not only monitors patients automatically by telephone, but also gives them self management advice and engages a friend or family member to serve as a CarePartner willing to play a limited role in identifying patient symptoms and psychosocial needs to reinforce self management and provide social support. The investigators found that this technology indeed helped patients better control their symptoms, especially when a caregiver participated in the program along with them.

Condition Intervention
Behavioral: Caregiver website

Study Type: Interventional
Study Design: Allocation: Randomized
Intervention Model: Single Group Assignment
Masking: Open Label
Primary Purpose: Supportive Care
Official Title: Web-based Support for Caregivers of Veterans Undergoing Chemotherapy

Resource links provided by NLM:

Further study details as provided by VA Office of Research and Development:

Primary Outcome Measures:
  • Summed Symptom Severity [ Time Frame: 3 months ]
    Summed severity across 8 symptoms of interest, as measured using the MD Anderson Symptom Inventory. 8 core symptoms rated by the patient on a scale of 0 to 10. These 8 symptoms were chosen based on their prevalence of 50% or greater in the population of interest. Higher scores mean WORSE or GREATER SYMPTOM BURDEN.

Enrollment: 134
Study Start Date: October 2009
Study Completion Date: February 2015
Primary Completion Date: April 2014 (Final data collection date for primary outcome measure)
Arms Assigned Interventions
Experimental: CarePartners+
Patients receive automated telephonic symptom assessment and symptom management advice; caregivers receive the intervention (Intervention = access to a caregiver Web site that updates them on patient's symptoms and provides tailored problem solving advice).
Behavioral: Caregiver website
Website receives patient symptom assessment data from IVR and provides caregivers with weekly updates on patient status, allowing caregivers to access tailored symptom management advice and formulate an action plan.
Other Name: Care Partners
No Intervention: CarePartners-
Patients receive automated telephonic symptom assessment and symptom management advice; caregivers receive nothing (i.e. no access to the caregiver website, or 'intervention').

Detailed Description:

Cancer is a prevalent problem that causes much suffering among Veterans and their families. Most interventions to improve symptom control require Veterans to engage in activities such as managing medications, altering diets, or accessing outside resources that may be beyond their reach due to limitations in physical and mental functioning. Friends and family inside and outside of the Veteran's household can help, but often lack the skills and resources they need to do so.

"Cancer CarePartners" was designed to address these needs by providing cancer-stricken Veterans and their informal caregivers with the information they need to make effective management decisions, decrease symptom burden, and improve outcomes. Cancer CarePartners is a Web-enabled program that alerts caregivers of patients' symptoms and provides them with a framework for identifying problems, receiving structured advice, formulating a 'task list,' and following up with their patients as they receive chemotherapy. Specifically, Cancer CarePartners includes weekly, automated telephonic symptom assessment (ATSA) with self-management (SM) support to the Veteran paired with Web-based alerts to the caregiver pointing them to a website where s/he can obtain customized advice. A randomized control trial was conducted to test the efficacy of this program in controlling symptoms as well as improving adherence to chemotherapy.


1) To determine if Veterans undergoing chemotherapy who receive Cancer CarePartners report significant improvement in the summed severity of symptoms (the sum of 0-10 severity across 8 core symptoms) compared to Veterans receiving symptom monitoring and self-management advice; secondarily, to determine if they experience better adherence to chemotherapy and utilization. (2) To determine if caregivers participating in the intervention provide significantly more social support to patients than do controls; secondarily, to determine if they experience more caregiver burden and distress than do controls. (3) To determine whether impacts on patients are mediated by mastery. (4) To determine whether impacts on caregivers are mediated by mastery.

Methods Consenting Veterans with solid tumors undergoing chemotherapy at one of three VAMCs (Ann Arbor, Loma Linda and Fargo) who reported at least one core symptom at a moderate level or higher and had a caregiver willing to enroll in the study were randomly assigned to either 10 weeks of Cancer CarePartners or 10 weeks of automated, telephonic symptom assessment (ATSA) with self management support. Arms were balanced for non-small cell lung cancer status and caregiver type. Patients and caregivers were surveyed at intake, 10, and 14 weeks. In addition, the investigators tracked patient participation with ATSA and (in the experimental arm) caregiver use of the Cancer CarePartners Website. The investigators reviewed all medical records for content of care received during the 14 weeks on study.


Ages Eligible for Study:   18 Years and older   (Adult, Senior)
Sexes Eligible for Study:   All
Accepts Healthy Volunteers:   No

Inclusion Criteria:

  • Patients must be 18 years or older, cognitively intact, English-speaking, able to hear, and own a telephone.
  • Patients can have any solid tumor.
  • Patients must be initiating IV cytotoxic chemotherapy and, if recurrent, have experienced a 1 month treatment free interval.
  • Caregivers must be 18 years or older, cognitively intact, English-speaking, and able to hear/speak for interviews.
  • Caregivers must have access to a telephone and computer with high speed internet access.

Exclusion Criteria:

  • Patients will be excluded if they have a hematologic malignancy or are receiving bone marrow transplantation.
  • Patients and caregivers will be excluded if they have an untreated serious mental illness or cognitive impairment, are institutionalized or enrolled in hospice (prior to trial), or plan on not receiving all care from VA
  Contacts and Locations
Choosing to participate in a study is an important personal decision. Talk with your doctor and family members or friends about deciding to join a study. To learn more about this study, you or your doctor may contact the study research staff using the Contacts provided below. For general information, see Learn About Clinical Studies.

Please refer to this study by its identifier: NCT00983892

United States, California
VA Loma Linda Healthcare System, Loma Linda, CA
Loma Linda, California, United States, 92357
United States, Michigan
VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System, Ann Arbor, MI
Ann Arbor, Michigan, United States, 48105
Sponsors and Collaborators
VA Office of Research and Development
Michigan State University
University of Michigan
Principal Investigator: Maria J. Silveira, MD MA MPH VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System, Ann Arbor, MI
  More Information

Responsible Party: VA Office of Research and Development Identifier: NCT00983892     History of Changes
Other Study ID Numbers: IIR 08-309
Study First Received: September 22, 2009
Results First Received: February 2, 2016
Last Updated: February 29, 2016
Individual Participant Data  
Plan to Share IPD: No

Keywords provided by VA Office of Research and Development:
information technology
palliative care processed this record on May 23, 2017