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The CHESS breast cancer module is an innovative technology that provides information, social support and skills training to women with breast cancer. Previous CHESS clinical trials found improved patient outcomes but little is known about what services in CHESS produce those results. This project is a national clinical trial that will examine whether breast cancer patient outcomes change as different types of conceptually distinct CHESS services, (information, social support, and skills training) are systematically added to a patients treatment resources. Subjects will be tracked to assess health, adjustment, and relational outcomes. This research will identify specific CHESS effects responsible for improvement on patient quality of life and help reveal the types of treatments that are most helpful to cancer patients and how they work.

The Need

The CHESS system is an ideal platform for investigating which sorts of communication treatments are effective, since there is already substantial evidence that something in CHESS is beneficial. We just do not know what it is, or how it works. Like all interactive breast cancer support systems the sources of its effectiveness are poorly understood. In the proposed study, we intend not only to gauge difference in the efficacies of different types of CHESS interventions, but also to examine potential mediators of treatment effects for different types of patients (e.g. with and without partners/spouses). The research proposed here will provide a rich source of information on processes related to coping with cancer. The study promises to inform and improve existing intervention strategies and identify new directions for cancer communication systems.


Recruitment for this trial began in April 2005 and will continue through April 2007. Study participants are recruited from Hartford Hospital in Hartford, CT., M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, TX, and the University of Wisconsin Comprehensive Cancer Center in Madison, WI. Each subject will be offered a loaned computer and Internet access for 6 months. They will complete 6 surveys at pretest, 2, 6, 12, 24, and 56 weeks. Individual system training and technical support is provided by CHESS staff through the duration of the trial.

Principal Investigators:
Timothy Baker, Ph.D