According to nurse scientist Horng-Shiuann Wu, PhD, RN, more than one-third of the breast-cancer survivors in the United States experience significant residual symptoms after treatment has ended. Wu, who is an associate professor at Goldfarb School of Nursing at Barnes-Jewish College, notes, “These symptoms can affect an individual’s ability to function, impeding the process of returning to normal.” Wu’s research aims at helping these survivors and has recently received funding from the National Institute of Nursing Research at the National Institutes of Health.
Wu says that the four most common post-treatment symptoms are fatigue, sleep disturbance, depressive mood and cognitive dysfunction. “The purpose of our research is to learn about how light therapy affects the four post-treatment symptoms in survivors of breast cancer,” says Wu. The study will recruit 34 female survivors with Stage I to Stage III breast cancer. Participants will receive 30-minute bright-light or dim-light therapy, which will be self-administered using a light-visor cap at home for 14 consecutive days.
“We’re also interested in learning how light therapy affects the circadian rhythm,” Wu says. Accordingly, the study will index each participant’s circadian rhythm by nighttime core body temperature before and after the intervention of light therapy. Nighttime sleep patterns will be monitored in a sleep laboratory using polysomonography, technology that records brain waves, and eye and muscle movement. Wu also notes that, for the duration of the study, “we will track fatigue, sleep disturbance, depressive mood and cognition, and quality of life, in each participant.”
The research team’s goal, Wu says, is to use the results of the study to help develop an appropriate light intervention that can ease post-cancer symptoms and improve quality of life. In addition to Wu who is the principal investigator, the team includes Goldfarb nurse scientist Jean Davis, PhD, RN, FAAN; Washington University oncologist and physician scientist Cynthia Ma, MD, PhD; and Washington University statistician Feng Gao, MD, PhD. The title of the study is “Effects of Bright Light on Co-Occurring Cancer-Related Symptoms in Breast Cancer Survivors: a Personalized Intervention.”
With a legacy beginning in 1902, Goldfarb School of Nursing at Barnes-Jewish College has a strong tradition of educating health care professionals in St. Louis.
Goldfarb School of Nursing is located on the campus of Washington University Medical Campus in St. Louis and is affiliated with Barnes-Jewish Hospital, with a site at Missouri Baptist Medical Center. Goldfarb School of Nursing has nationally recognized educational facilities with state-of-the-art classrooms, lecture halls and sophisticated Clinical Simulation Institute labs with patient simulation mannequins and exam rooms that provide high-tech, advanced nursing care experiences.
Goldfarb School of Nursing at Barnes-Jewish College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) and is approved by the Missouri State Board of Nursing and Higher Education Commission.
To learn more about Goldfarb School of Nursing at Barnes-Jewish College, visit BarnesJewishCollege.edu