A randomized controlled trial is being proposed to see if there are health benefits to providing a culturally sensitive social support system. The breast cancer support program, titled "Joy Luck Academy," will include 168 Chinese-speaking breast cancer survivors who have recently completed treatment for stage 0 to 3 breast cancer. The trial will use a community-based participatory research approach. This approach involves researchers and community participants acting as equal partners in all stages of the research.
Chinese-American immigrant breast cancer survivors often have a hard time receiving social, emotional, and spiritual support because of cultural and linguistic barriers. This trial is an attempt to see if providing peer support and education will be more effective than providing education alone.
The 168 participants will be randomly assigned to either the control group or the intervention group. The intervention group will go to receive peer mentoring and education for 3.5 hours every week for 7 weeks. The control group will receive the educational information without attending the peer mentor group. The researchers will assess the health outcomes at the start of the study, immediately after it's over, one month after it's completed, and four months after it's completed.
Researchers will primarily be focusing on measures that affect people's quality of life, as outlined in the Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy scale. This is a 27-question form that measures the physical, social, emotional, and functional well-being of people who have or have had cancer. They are also planning to measure depressive symptoms, positive mood, fatigue, and perceived stress.
Additionally, they'll test if the support group affects cortisol levels, which is a hormone that plays a role in metabolism and immune system response. The researchers will measure the social and personal resources of the participants to try to determine how effective the program is. If it's effective, it can be easily duplicated in other areas and with other groups of people. The results of the trial are expected to be published in 2022.