University of Missouri

Setting the Stage for Lymphedema Education

Researchers use interactive theater to provide education, support to breast cancer survivors
Setting the Stage for Lymphedema Education

Researchers use interactive theater to provide education, support to breast cancer survivors.

Breast cancer survivors are at risk of developing a condition named lymphedema, and researchers at the MU Sinclair School of Nursing are studying a new approach to educating them about the condition.

Pamela Ostby, PhD, RN, a researcher at the nursing school, said breast cancer-related lymphedema may occur in 40 percent of approximately 3 million breast cancer survivors in the United States. It is a chronic condition that requires lifelong management. Heaviness of the arm, swelling and numbness are commonly the first symptoms of lymphedema.

Study allows survivors to interact and intervene

The current method of teaching patients about lymphedema is with printed information, such as brochures. In a recent survey, Ostby reported that most participants agreed that interacting with others was the best way to provide education and support.

Otsby leads a research study comparing the standard method of printed education materials with a newer approach — interactive theater.

“This is exciting, innovative research by a multidisciplinary team led by the Sinclair School of Nursing, with Mizzou’s departments of family and community medicine and theatre,” said Jane Armer, PhD, RN, professor of nursing and director of nursing research at Ellis Fischel Cancer Center.

Individuals who have been diagnosed with breast cancer- related lymphedema are invited to consider participating in this study.

To learn more, please contact Otsby at 314-255-6677 or leresearch@missouri.edu.

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