Using Telenavigators to Support Rural Breast Cancer Patients

Principal Investigator:
Scarlett Lin Gomez, Ph.D.
Susan Ferrier, R.N., Mary Anne Kreshka, M.A., Anna Napoles, Ph.D., Carmen Ortiz, Ph.D., Gem Le, Ph.D., Karin Lightfoot, Ph.D.
Funding Source:
California Breast Cancer Research Program
Funding Period:
Study Website:
Geographic isolation is a major barrier limiting access to healthcare and other resources, leading to a lack of empowerment and social support, low quality of life, and ultimately mortality disparities. The peer navigator/counselor model and use of telehealth in clinical settings are both well-established. However, the feasibility and acceptability of using telehealth to provide real-time personalized support via trained peers is not known. We define "telenavigators" as peers (breast cancer survivors from the same region) who provide support services through telehealth technology. Telenavigators have great potential to fill an important gap in addressing community-identified concerns regarding lack of resources for isolated, rural breast cancer survivors. Our Community-Research team seeks to use telehealth to mitigate the unmet needs and documented worse outcomes among rural breast cancer survivors by capitalizing on the recent availability of widespread internet access in rural northeastern California. Our proposed study will be the first to test a telenavigator model that leverages telehealth technology and uses local breast cancer peer counselors to deliver access to informational and support resources and promote empowerment in problem-solving and coping in rural communities.

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