Outlook: Newsletter of the Society of Behavorial Medicine

Winter 2017

New Articles from Annals of Behavioral Medicine and Translational Behavioral Medicine

SBM's two journals, Annals of Behavioral Medicine and Translational Behavioral Medicine: Practice, Policy, Research (TBM), continuously publish online articles, many of which become available before issues are printed. Three recently published Annals and TBM online articles are listed below.

SBM members who have paid their 2016 membership dues are able to access the full text of all Annals and TBM online articles via the SBM website by following the steps below.

  1. Go to the Members Only section of the SBM website (http://www.sbm.org/membership/members).
  2. Log in with your username and password.
  3. Click on the Journals link (listed third in the list of member benefits).
  4. Click on the title of the journal which you would like to electronically access.

To check if you are a current SBM member, or if you are having trouble accessing the journals online, please contact the SBM national office at info@sbm.org or (414) 918-3156.

Annals of Behavioral Medicine

Intervention Mediators in a Randomized Controlled Trial to Increase Colonoscopy Uptake Among Individuals at Increased Risk of Familial Colorectal Cancer
Barbara H. Brumbach, Wendy C. Birmingham, Watcharaporn Boonyasiriwat, Scott Walters, Anita Y. Kinne
Understanding the pathways by which interventions achieve behavioral change is important for optimizing intervention strategies.
We examined mediators of behavior change in a tailored-risk communication intervention that increased guideline-based colorectal cancer screening among individuals at increased familial risk.
Participants at increased familial risk for colorectal cancer (N = 481) were randomized to one of two arms: (1) a remote, tailored-risk communication intervention (Tele-Cancer Risk Assessment and Evaluation (TeleCARE)) or (2) a mailed educational brochure intervention.
Structural equation modeling showed that participants in TeleCARE were more likely to get a colonoscopy. The effect was partially mediated through perceived threat (β = 0.12, p < 0.05), efficacy beliefs (β = 0.12, p < 0.05), emotions (β = 0.22, p < 0.001), and behavioral intentions (β = 0.24, p < 0.001). Model fit was very good: comparative fit index = 0.95, root-mean-square error of approximation = 0.05, and standardized root-mean-square residual = 0.08.
Evaluating mediating variables between an intervention (TeleCARE) and a primary outcome (colonoscopy) contributes to our understanding of underlying mechanisms that lead to health behavior change, thus leading to better informed and designed future interventions.

Preparedness and Cancer-Related Symptom Management among Cancer Survivors in the First Year Post-Treatment
Corinne R. Leach, Alyssa N. Troeschel,Dawn Wiatrek, Annette L. Stanton, Michael Diefenbach, Kevin D. Stein, Katherine Sharpe, Kenneth Portier
Many cancer survivors feel unprepared for the physical and psychosocial challenges that accompany the post-treatment care transition (i.e., re-entry phase), including management of cancer-related symptoms. Few studies have investigated personal and contextual factors associated with the extent of preparedness for re-entry or how they are related to cancer-related symptom management.
Data from the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Survivor Transition Study examined (1) characteristics of breast, prostate, and colorectal cancer survivors (n = 1188) within the first year of completing treatment who are most and least prepared for re-entry; and (2) how preparedness level and other characteristics are related to cancer-related symptom management.
Stanton and colleagues’ [1] conceptual model of survivorship guided the selection of interpersonal/environmental, individual, and disease/treatment-related characteristics as potential contributors to levels of preparedness and cancer-related symptom management using regression tree and multivariate linear regression analyses.
Survivors, on average, felt moderately prepared for the transition to post-treatment care. Lowest levels of preparedness were found among survivors with relatively high depressive symptoms, low perceived quality of oncology-provided survivorship care, and limited discussion about potential side effects with a health professional. Poorer symptom management was associated with younger age, having more comorbid conditions, and lower preparedness, social support, and spirituality.
Survivors who feel unprepared for the transition to post-treatment care report poorer cancer-related symptom management. Identification of factors associated with low perceived preparedness and poor cancer-related symptom management will assist in risk stratification and development of tailored interventions to meet the needs of cancer survivors during re-entry.

Associations Between Pain Catastrophizing and Cognitive Fusion in Relation to Pain and Upper Extremity Function Among Hand and Upper Extremity Surgery Patients
Sezai Özkan, Emily L. Zale, David Ring, Ana-Maria Vranceanu
Patients who present to hand surgery practices are at increased risk of psychological distress, pain, and disability. Greater catastrophic thinking about pain is associated with greater pain intensity, and initial evidence suggest that, together, catastrophic thinking about pain and cognitive fusion (i.e., interpretation of thoughts as true) are associated with poorer pain outcomes.
We tested whether cognitive fusion or catastrophic thinking interacts in relation to pain and upper extremity physical function among patients seeking care from a hand surgeon.
Patients (N = 110; mean age= 47.51; 59% women) presenting to an outpatient hand surgery practice completed computerized measures of sociodemographics, pain intensity, cognitive fusion, catastrophic thinking about pain, and upper extremity function.
ANCOVA revealed an interaction between cognitive fusion and catastrophic thinking about pain with respect to pain intensity and upper extremity function (ps < .01). Participants who scored high on both cognitive fusion and catastrophic thinking about pain reported the greatest levels of pain, relative to those who scored high on a single measure. The lowest levels of upper extremity function were also observed among those who scored high on both catastrophic thinking about pain and cognitive fusion. A similar pattern of results was observed when we tested each catastrophizing subscale individually.
Maladaptive cognitions about pain (i.e., catastrophic thinking) may be particularly problematic when interpreted as representative of reality (i.e., cognitive fusion). Psychosocial interventions addressing catastrophic thinking about pain and cognitive fusion concurrently merit investigation among people with hand and upper extremity illness.


Translational Behavioral Medicine

Behavioral and Social Sciences at the National Institutes of Health: adoption of research findings in health research and practice as a scientific priority
William T. Riley
The National Institutes of Health’s Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR) recently released its Strategic Plan for 2017 to 2021. This plan highlights three scientific priorities: (1) improve the synergy of basic and applied behavioral and social sciences research, (2) enhance and promote the research infrastructure, methods, and measures needed to support a more cumulative and integrated approach to behavioral and social sciences research, and (3) facilitate the adoption of behavioral and social sciences research findings in health research and in practice. This commentary focuses on the challenges and opportunities to facilitate the adoption of research findings in health research and in practice. In addition to the ongoing NIH support for dissemination and implementation (D&I) research, we must address transformative challenges and opportunities such as better disseminating and implementing D&I research, merging research and practice, adopting more rigorous and diverse methods and measures for both D&I and clinical trials research, evaluating technological-based delivery of interventions, and transitioning from minimally adaptable intervention packages to planned adaptations rooted in behavior change principles. Beyond translation into practice and policy, the OBSSR Strategic Plan also highlights the need for translation of behavioral and social science findings into the broader biomedical research enterprise.

The implementation and evaluation of a communication skills training program for oncology nurses
Smita C. Banerjee, Ruth Manna, Nessa Coyle, Stacey Penn, Tess E. Gallegos, Talia Zaider, Carol A. Krueger, Philip A. Bialer, Carma L. Bylund, Patricia A. Parker
Many nurses express difficulty in communicating with their patients, especially in oncology settings where there are numerous challenges and high-stake decisions during the course of diagnosis and treatment. Providing specific training in communication skills is one way to enhance the communication between nurses and their patients. We developed and implemented a communication skills training program for nurses, consisting of three teaching modules: responding empathically to patients; discussing death, dying, and end-of-life goals of care; and responding to challenging interactions with families. Training included didactic and experiential small group role plays. This paper presents results on program evaluation, self-efficacy, and behavioral demonstration of learned communication skills. Three hundred forty-two inpatient oncology nurses participated in a 1-day communication skills training program and completed course evaluations, self-reports, and pre- and post-standardized patient assessments. Participants rated the training favorably, and they reported significant gains in self-efficacy in their ability to communicate with patients in various contexts. Participants also demonstrated significant improvement in several empathic skills, as well as in clarifying skill. Our work demonstrates that implementation of a nurse communication skills training program at a major cancer center is feasible and acceptable and has a significant impact on participants’ self-efficacy and uptake of communication skills.

Design and implementation of decision support for tobacco dependence treatment in an inpatient electronic medical record: a randomized trial
Steven L. Bernstein, June Rosner, Michelle DeWitt, Jeanette Tetrault, Allen L. Hsiao, James Dziura, Scott Sussman, Patrick O’Connor, Benjamin Toll
Tobacco dependence treatment for hospitalized smokers results in long-term cessation if treatment continues at least 30 days post-discharge. Health information technology may facilitate ongoing tobacco dependence treatment after hospital discharge. To describe the use and impact of a new decision support tool and order set for inpatient physicians, addressing tobacco dependence treatment for hospitalized smokers, embedded in an electronic health record (EHR). In a cluster-randomized trial, 254 physicians were randomized (1:1) to either receive or not receive the decision support tool and order set, which were embedded in the Epic (Madison, WI) EHR used at 2 hospitals in a single city. When an adult patient was admitted to a medical service, an electronic alert appeared if the patient was coded in the EHR as a smoker. For physicians randomized to the intervention, the alert linked to an order set to prescribe tobacco treatment medications and refer the patient to the state tobacco quitline. Additionally, “tobacco use disorder” was added to the patient’s problem list, and an e-mail was sent to the patient’s primary care provider (PCP). In the control arm, an alert fired with no screen visibility. Generalized estimating equations were used to model the data. Since August 2013, the alert has appeared for 10,939 patients (5391 intervention, 5548 control). Compared to control physicians, intervention physicians were more likely to order tobacco treatment medication (35 vs. 29%, P < 0.0001), populate the problem list with tobacco use disorder (41 vs. 2%, P < 0.0001), and make a referral to the state smokers’ quitline (30 vs. 0%, P < 0.0001). In addition, intervention physicians sent an e-mail to the patient’s PCP 4152 (99%) times. Designing and implementing an order set and alert for tobacco treatment in an EHR is feasible and helps physicians place more orders for tobacco treatment medication, referrals to the state smokers’ quitline, and e-mails to patients’ PCPs. Data on cessation outcomes are pending.