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This study investigated the challenges and support needs of adults aged 75 and older during and after treatment for a blood cancer to aid targeted supportive resource development.
Adults aged 75 and older with a blood cancer participated in in-depth, semi-structured interviews about challenges and unmet support needs. Participants recruited through The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society were (1) in treatment or previously in treatment for a blood cancer at age 75 or older and (2) living in the United States or its territories. A thematic analysis was conducted with findings compared between 2 groups: (1) chronic -living with a chronic blood cancer; (2) acute -living with an acute blood cancer or both an acute and chronic blood cancer.
Participants (n = 50) ranged from 75 to 91 years old. Both groups described similar experiences and identified 5 challenges and support needs: (1) socioemotional impact, (2) activities of daily living and instrumental activities of daily living (ADLs/iADLs), (3) uncertainty management, (4) treatment-related stressors, and (5) COVID-19-related strain. Properties for these themes illustrate challenges and support needs, with some differences between groups. For instance, those living with a chronic blood cancer highlighted financial strain with treatment-related stressors, while those with an acute blood cancer focused more on iADLs.
Significance of results
Findings inform an agenda for targeted resource development for older adults with a blood cancer nearing the end of the life span. Results demonstrate the need for supportive services and family communication interventions to help patients manage iADLs and navigate socioemotional needs and challenges.
To improve maternal health outcomes, increased diversity is needed among pregnant people in research studies and community surveillance. To expand the pool, we sought to develop a network encompassing academic and community obstetrics clinics. Typical challenges in developing a network include site identification, contracting, onboarding sites, staff engagement, participant recruitment, funding, and institutional review board approvals. While not insurmountable, these challenges became magnified as we built a research network during a global pandemic. Our objective is to describe the framework utilized to resolve pandemic-related issues.
We developed a framework for site-specific adaptation of the generalized study protocol. Twice monthly video meetings were held between the lead academic sites to identify local challenges and to generate ideas for solutions. We identified site and participant recruitment challenges and then implemented solutions tailored to the local workflow. These solutions included the use of an electronic consent and videoconferences with local clinic leadership and staff. The processes for network development and maintenance changed to address issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, aspects of the sample processing/storage and data collection elements were held constant between sites.
Adapting our consenting approach enabled maintaining study enrollment during the pandemic. The pandemic amplified issues related to contracting, onboarding, and IRB approval. Maintaining continuity in sample management and clinical data collection allowed for pooling of information between sites.
Adaptability is key to maintaining network sites. Rapidly changing guidelines for beginning and continuing research during the pandemic required frequent intra- and inter-institutional communication to navigate.
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