Harris leading pediatric MS cognition research

Karen Meneses, PhD, RN, FAAN - Principal Investigator

UAB Roybal Center for Applied Research in Gerontology

Meneses-150x-210Karen Meneses, PhD, RN, FAAN, Professor and Associate Dean for Research is the principal investigator on a pilot entitled "Pilot Evaluation of Speed of Processing Training among Older Employed Breast Cancer Survivors" funded by a P30 grant to the Roybal Center for Applied Research in Gerontology.

The aims of this study are to determine: (1) the feasibility of speed of processing (SOP) training among older working breast cancer survivors (BCS) both at home and in a clinic setting; (2) whether SOP training improves performance on neuropsychological tests of speed of processing and whether those improvements are generalized to other neuropsychological performance measures; and (3) whether the training results in improvements on measures of mood, sleep, and work performance.

Advances in breast cancer treatment have led to excellent survival and life expectancy of 20 years or more after treatment.  However, successfully treated older women with breast cancer are not necessarily living better.  Cognitive deficits are a troubling long-term treatment side effect with incidence ranging from 21% to 78.  Increasing evidence supports the validity of claims that breast cancer survivors suffer cognitive deficits in speed of processing as well as in the domains of memory, attention, and executive.  Breast cancer survivors (BCS) are more likely than their age-matched peers to experience changes in employment including retirement, reduction of hours, and change of position, which are particularly burdensome to older women, women with lower income, and African American women.  This study is innovative in applying a well-documented cognitive remediation therapy (i.e. SOP training) to a population of working-age BCS who suffer from subtle cognitive deficits.  This innovation is based on the concept of neuroplasticity and the success of previous studies using SOP training in healthy aging populations as well as in adults with HIV.

BCS over age 40 who have completed chemotherapy will be randomized to receive the speed of processing training (10 hours over the course of 4 to 6 weeks) either at home or at the clinic.  A battery of self-report questionnaires and neuropsychological tests will be administered both before and shortly following training.  This pilot study will establish whether SOP training is useful in addressing and reducing cognitive deficits in older employed BCS following chemotherapy.  

Related Publications

Azuero, A., Su, X., Mcnees, P., Meneses, K.(2013) A revision of the quality of life-breast cancer survivors (QOL-BCS) instrument. Research in Nursing and Health, 36 (4),  423-434.

Meneses KM, Benz RL, Hassey LA, Yang ZQ, McNees MP. (2013). Strategies to retain rural breast cancer survivors in longitudinal research.Appl Nurs Res. 2013 Nov;26(4):257-62