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InHealth awards grant to research team at Hartford Hospital

WASHINGTON, DCThe Institute for Health Technology Studies (InHealth) has awarded a grant totaling more than $238,000 to a research team at the Helen & Harry Gray Cancer Center at Hartford Hospital in Connecticut to study how various prostate cancer treatments affect a patient's "social capital"the ability to continue working productively in a paying job.

Prostate cancer survivorship is growing. The disease is the second most common cancer diagnosed in men, with one of the best survivorship rates: according to the American Cancer Society, the five-year survival rate is nearly 100%. The Hartford Hospital study will examine how treating the disease with aggressive therapy affects quality of life and the career trajectories of men between the ages of 45 and 65.

The study will include men treated for prostate cancer between 2001 and 2010, a period in which the technology used to treat the disease underwent significant change: robotic-aided laparoscopy replaced classical open surgery; and standard radiation therapy moved from three-dimensional conformal radiotherapy (3D-CRT) to intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) with daily imaging.

"Published scientific research, some sponsored by InHealth, shows that less medical technology means more hospital stays and intensive care, more recovery time and lost efficiency for business, and more productivity lost to disabilities," says Martyn Howgill, InHealth's executive director. "While information about the costs of these technologies is readily available, there is less information about their overall economic effects at either the patient or societal level, as the recent discussion of healthcare reform has exposed."

The Hartford team will survey three groups of early-stage prostate cancer patients: those treated with brachytherapy using radioactive seeds, those treated with robot-assisted and open surgical techniques, and those treated with varying forms of external beam radiation. Patients will have been actively working when treated, and will be asked to recall their experience, including work frequency at time of diagnosis, during and after treatment, and currently. The researchers will also collect data on paid leaves, unemployment compensation, features of employment, satisfaction with current work compared with the time of diagnosis, and the amount of time elapsed before a patient was able to return to work, among other issues.

Researchers will classify employment and salary data for each patient before treatment and six months and three years after. This information will then be compared with data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, generating an economic measure of each patient's social capital.

The study, "Technology and Access to Work During and After Prostate Cancer Treatment," will be led by principal investigator Andrew L. Salner, MD, director of the Helen & Harry Gray Cancer Center and associate clinical professor at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine. It will involve researchers from the Hartford Hospital Research Program; the University of Connecticut, Storrs; and the cole Libre des Hautes tudes, in New York City.

Salner and his team will recruit patients from Hartford Hospital's Comprehensive Prostate Center Database, launched in 2006, which documents the entire clinical process from diagnosis through treatment and follow-up for all patients receiving active treatment from any urologist or radiation oncologist affiliated with Hartford Hospital. Quality of life data are also collected. Patients treated before 2006 will be identified through the Hartford Hospital Cancer Registry.

"We are most pleased to have been selected for this prestigious research funding from InHealth," said Salner. "It certainly allows the study of how new and innovative technologies can impact cancer patients' quality of life, their return to productive normalcy, and the environment in which they function."

Findings from the study are expected in late 2011.


Contact: Caitlin Hool
InHealth: The Institute for Health Technology Studies

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