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Frankel to lead first IU Simon Cancer Center Palliative Care Research and Education Program

December 5, 2012

INDIANAPOLIS -- Research sociologist Richard M. Frankel, Ph.D., has been selected to be the first director of the Mary Margaret Walther Palliative Care Research and Education Program at the Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Center.

Frankel is a professor of medicine at the IU School of Medicine, a senior research scientist at the Regenstrief Institute and associate director of the Center on Implementing Evidence-Based Practice at the Richard L. Roudebush VA Medical Center. For the past eight years, he has been the statewide professionalism competency director at the IU School of Medicine.

Frankel’s research has focused on physician-patient communication and its effects on medical care delivery and outcomes. Recently he has studied how communication between physicians and patients with advanced cancer influences the transition to end-of-life care.

The Mary Margaret Walther Palliative Care Research and Education Program was created by a $3.4 million grant from the Walther Cancer Foundation. The program will support the efforts of researchers and educators at the IU Simon Cancer Center to develop innovative studies that ultimately lead to earlier integration of palliative care into conventional cancer care, thus providing the highest quality of life for patients undergoing cancer treatment and their families.

“I couldn’t be more excited about creating a center that will be on the cutting edge of research and education in this critically important area of medical practice,” said Frankel, who added that he will be  collaborating with palliative care physicians who practice at IU. “Communication and relationships are critical in palliative care so that all involved can participate fully in making informed decisions and reach a shared understanding of care goals especially when a cure is not possible.”

Palliative care is a rapidly developing medical specialty that emphasizes the relief of suffering from disease or treatment-related symptoms or of psychological, social and spiritual distress related to the disease or its treatment. Preliminary studies have suggested that palliative care provided to people with cancer at the same time as treatment leads to a better quality of life, fewer depressive symptoms and a longer life expectancy.

 

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