Behavioral Pain Management Interventions for Patients with Cancer: Improving Access and Optimization

November 28, 2017, 2:00pm – 3:00pm EST
Tamara Somers, Ph.D.
Tamara Somers, Ph.D.

Tamara Somers, Ph.D.

Tamara Somers, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Duke University Medical Center


Pain is one of the most common and distressing symptoms for patients with cancer. There is evidence that behavioral pain interventions are efficacious for decreasing pain and pain-related symptoms. The NIH recommends the integration of behavioral pain interventions into cancer care. Yet these interventions remain poorly translated into clinical cancer care. Two factors impacting poor implementation are persistent intervention access barriers and lack of intervention optimization. This presentation will focus on strategies for increasing behavioral pain intervention access and optimization. First, funded research in intervention development and testing of novel delivery modalities (e.g., videoconferencing, smart phone) for behavioral pain interventions will be presented. Second, ongoing work co-funded by National Cancer Institute and the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research examining the use of a sequential multiple assignment randomized trial (SMART) designed to optimize the delivery of a behavioral pain intervention will be presented. This SMART is designed to provide comparative evidence of intervention-dose sequences of a behavior pain management intervention (Pain Coping Skills Training) for patients with breast cancer that adjusts based on patient response. Participants of this presentation will gain information on behavioral interventions access and optimization challenges, strategies for using mobile health technologies to increase behavioral pain intervention access, and the use of a SMART to optimize behavioral interventions.


Tamara Somers, Ph.D., is an associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Duke University Medical Center and a faculty member at the Duke Cancer Institute. Dr. Somers is a clinical psychologist who has extensive training and experience in the development, testing, and implementation of psychosocial symptom management intervention protocols for patients with cancer and other chronic diseases. Dr. Somers’ program of research is in the area of developing efficacious behavioral pain interventions for cancer patients often using mobile health delivery modalities to improve intervention dissemination and implementation. She is currently the principal investigator on one of the first behavioral intervention symptom management trials to use a SMART (R01 CA202779). This SMART is examining doses of a behavioral pain intervention in women with breast cancer and is expected to provide novel information on scaling and personalization of behavioral pain interventions.