January 27, 2006

Cancer Center opens clinical trial mentor program

Featured Image

VUSN’s Linda Norman, D.S.N., R.N., second from right, talks with incoming Lipscomb students Amanda Jones, Michael Jool and Meg Cashion during orientation week.
Photo by Dana Johnson

Cancer Center opens clinical trial mentor program

Thanks to Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center's new Clinical Trials Mentor program, patients considering enrolling in a clinical trial can now ask questions and get first-hand accounts from patient advocates who have already gone through the process.

The Clinical Trials Mentor Program offers training to cancer survivors or family members to help them learn how to discuss the basics of clinical trials and express their experiences with new patients and potential clinical trial participants. Currently, there are five trained mentors in the program.

Karen Stroup, Ph.D., manager of Patient Advocacy, said the program was created based on feedback from previous patients.

“Patients have said this is what they want and need. You get all the information you need about clinical trials from a doctor or nurse, but what you don't get is anything from another patient who has been where you are,” said Stroup.

She said potential clinical trial participants will be matched with a mentor in the program based on their type of cancer and personal needs. The mentor will contact the patient by phone and offer a first-hand account of what participating in a clinical trial is all about. Mentors are trained to refer patients to a nurse at Vanderbilt-Ingram for any information they are not trained to discuss or questions they can't answer.

Stroup said she would like to see the program grow and hopes to have dozens of volunteers to help with the mentoring. Mentors are asked to complete a short training program, and cancer survivors must be at least one year out of treatment to become a mentor.

To find out how to become a mentor or be matched with one, or for more information about clinical trials at Vanderbilt-Ingram, call Stroup at 936-1072, e-mail Karen.stroup@vanderbilt.edu or visit www.vicc.org.