Meagan Whisenant, PhD, RN
Dr. Whisenant has worked in oncology nursing for more than 15 years, in both inpatient and outpatient settings. Dr. Whisenant completed a NINR T32 funded Postdoctoral Fellowship in Interdisciplinary Research in Cancer, Aging, and End of Life Care at the University of Utah, College of Nursing and a Hawn Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center Department of Symptom Research. Dr. Whisenant studies symptoms associated with cancer disease and treatment. Her work involves studying the measurement of cancer disease- and treatment-related symptoms, variability in symptom trajectories, and methods for implementing routine symptom monitoring and management in clinical care, including patient-reported outcomes (PRO) instrument development and testing. She utilizes both qualitative and quantitative methods to learn about the symptom experience from the patient and family caregiver perspe ctive and consider approaches for monitoring and managing symptoms across the cancer trajectory.
Dr. Whisenant’s current focus is to improve cancer patient outcomes by developing a program of research focused on describing the symptom burden of cancer and methods for implementing routine symptom monitoring and management in cancer care using PRO measures. She is working on determining whether clinical, demographic, or genetic factors may distinguish symptom trajectory groups as well as modeling symptom trajectories in various cancer populations. Identifying distinct symptom trajectories and describing correlates of those trajectories may assist clinicians in targeting symptom management strategies for those most at risk for moderate or severe symptom experiences. Symptom monitoring and management has demonstrated improved cancer patient outcomes, yet best practices have not been established. Collection of symptom data is complicated by the dynam ic nature of symptoms, the need for complex data management systems, and the timing of cancer symptoms, which often occur in the home setting and are not reported to clinicians. The use of disease-specific validated questionnaires in capturing PROs is critical for facilitating individualized symptom monitoring, management and treatment decisions. Dr. Whisenant is studying methods for capturing symptom-related data using PRO measures and studying patient-provider communication about symptoms in the outpatient setting.