An ASU research team is studying healthy lifestyles, cancer prevention and supportive interventions in the Latino community. Professor Linda Larkey, from the ASU College of Nursing and Health Innovation and Scottsdale Healthcare Chair of Biobehavioral Oncology Research, talks about the study and other ongoing projects focused on Hispanic health.
Jose Cardenas: Latinos Saludables, healthy latinos, is a research study being conducted at ASU. They're trying to find ways to get the message out in the latino community to live a more healthier lifestyle. We'll talk to the principal investigator on the study in a moment, but first here's a clip from women's stories, an educational tool in breast cancer awareness.
Woman: On a good day I write five, six good things that I am thankful for, and the day I got the diagnosis I sat down and said, what am I going to write about today? What am -- am I thankful that I have canner? And it was amazing. I was -- I was able to write more than 12 things. I was thankful for all the new technology about cancer, I'm thankful for the doctor that was able to find what I have. Thankful for the mammography, I'm thankful for -- that day I didn't forget to go and get the mammography done. There were many, many things I was thankful for. Now I said I'm thankful for being alive.
Woman: I'm the only Native American woman from Hamilton to Fort Eerie that goes out and speaks to Native American women about my breast cancer. Because it is a gift. When I look at it every day and at first I thought oh, my god, I have this ugly scar. But it's not ugly. It's beautiful.
Jose Cardenas: Here now to talk to me about the study is Professor Linda Larkey, Scottsdale healthcare chair of Biobehavioral Oncology Research of Nursing and Health Innovation at ASU. It's a long title. Lots to talk about, those as well. Let's start with the women's stories, the segment we had on the screen before you came on the air.
Linda Larkey: Sure.
Jose Cardenas: What can you tell us about it?
Linda Larkey: The women's stories project is based on a series of educational tools that have already been developed, and we're developed by a breast cancer survivor, MiMi Dahl, who decided that it might be helpful for women just diagnosed with breast cancer to hear other women's stories about that. And so the video series helps educate women and helps them get more of a sense of somebody has gone through this before me, and we're pilot testing them right now to see what the actual effects are measuring, women's changes in their emotional acceptance of themselves, and their anxiety around their diagnosis.
Jose Cardenas: And that is the point at which the story has been shown, right after a woman gets this diagnosis, which has to be very depressing thing, quite a burden, and you're showing them these stories so they know how others have dealt with it.
Linda Larkey: Right. So right now we're still looking for women particularly Latina women to come and through if they have been diagnosed recently within the last three to six months, and we would bring them into a study where we can look at how it's affected them.
Jose Cardenas: Somebody is watching this show tonight and they want to participate, how would they do that?
Linda Larkey: I believe there's a number on the screen.
Jose Cardenas: We'll have it on the screen is that the best way to -- .
Linda Larkey: That's the best way to do it. And they can also look up just information about women's stories at women'sstories.org.
Jose Cardenas: While you're particularly interested in Latinas, it's not limited to them.
Linda Larkey: No.
Jose Cardenas: It's different in focus necessarily than the Latinos Saludables. Tell us about that project, which I understand is in its fifth year.
Linda Larkey: It's in its fifth year, and we were funded by the National Cancer Institute, an NIH funded project, to run a study that takes a look at -- we're actually testing out the idea that narratives or stories might have a little more impact in helping people change their health behaviors. So the study is designed to go out into the community and reach groups of Latinos who are healthy for the most part, and helping them to look at adopting healthier lifestyles. So we're comparing an intervention that looks at how it works to tell the stories that might help people identify with and change their behavior, compared to just the plain old didactic classroom situation.
Jose Cardenas: Is the focus on a particular segment of the Latino communication, recent immigrant versus native born?
Linda Larkey: Yes. We have always worked mostly with the poorer populations and that -- those parts of town where we go to recruit tends to also find those who are maybe not even documented. So we have a higher proportion of uninsured, lower income, Latinos in the projects that we do.
Jose Cardenas: And as part of this you use what you call - Promotoras [SPEAKING SPANISH]. Explain that to us.
Linda Larkey: So one of the things that has been found to really help, first of all identify in the community how to reach people as well as to deliver messages in a way that are going to be culturally connecting, is to work with Promotoras de Salud. So we work with women who are from the community, represent the community, know the community really well, and then we educate them so that they can go out and do this form of outreach.
Jose Cardenas: One of the programs that I know you're embarking on that's related to this is with respect to colorectal cancer.
Linda Larkey: Yes. That's a different project. We have -- actually let me backtrack. With the Latinos Saludables project, most of the things we've done in the community with Promotoras include a piece of a bit of information around physical activity. And so we often offer many different types of physical activity, so dancing, and walking, and we've been adding in a piece that uses tai chi, so it's a meditative movement practice and it's worked very well as part of our outreach with the Latinos Saludables program.
Jose Cardenas: And by the way we do have that number on the screen now.
Linda Larkey: Sure. Thanks. And then so one of the projects we're doing now out of Scottsdale health care hospital is looking at the effects of these meditative movement practices on colorectal cancer survivors who are very fatigued. We've done similar studies with breast cancer survivors, and we've had some Latinos involved in the study and with this one with the colorectal survivors we're still recruiting.
Jose Cardenas: Why the focus on -- you said very fatigued. What are you getting at?
Linda Larkey: Well, both for colorectal cancer and for breast cancer, we understand there's a good proportion of patients after they're done with treatment, they're fatigued, very fatigued, it's very typical. But even --
Jose Cardenas: Is this Chemo Therapy, Radiation, both?
Linda Larkey: It's all of that. And then many people start feeling better three to six months later. Well, we're finding there's still this proportion of patients who are still fatigued after six months. So we call that Persistent Cancer Related Fatigue. There isn't a lot that's done for those patients. There's very little that can help them that we've identified so far. And so this is a very gentle form of exercise, it helps them to really work with breathing, and an inner meditative state, reducing their stress and it begins to start building their --
Jose Cardenas: So after the six-month stage it's more after psychological issue than it might have been before?
Linda Larkey: It's very real. It's very physical, and physiologically based. And what we've been able to track with these kinds of patients that there are higher levels of Inflammatory Cytokine and C reactive protein, so there's something going on that's keeping that fatigue in place.
Jose Cardenas: That's all very fascinating doctor, we thank you for joining us on "Horizonte" to talk about it. Thank you so much.
Linda Larkey: Thank you. Appreciate it.
Linda Larkey:Professor, ASU College of Nursing and Health Innovation and Scottsdale Healthcare Chair of Biobehavioral Oncology Research;