A Culturally Sensitive Social Support Intervention for Chinese American Breast Cancer Survivors (Joy Luck Academy): Protocol for a Randomized Controlled Trial

Qian Lu, Krystal Warmoth, Lingjun Chen, Christine S Wu, Qiao Chu, Yisheng Li, Matthew W Gallagher, Annette L Stanton, Marjorie Kagawa Singer, Lucy Young, Alice Loh

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BACKGROUND: Breast cancer is the most prevalent type of cancer among Asian American women. Chinese American immigrant breast cancer survivors face unique challenges because of cultural and socioecological factors. They report emotional distress and the need for social, emotional, and spiritual support. However, culturally and linguistically appropriate information for managing survivorship health care is often unavailable.

OBJECTIVE: To improve the health outcomes for this underserved and understudied population, we developed, designed, and launched a randomized controlled trial to test the health benefits of a culturally sensitive social support intervention (Joy Luck Academy). In this paper, we describe the research protocol.

METHODS: This randomized controlled trial will enroll Chinese-speaking, stage 0 to 3 breast cancer survivors who have completed treatment within the previous 36 months using a community-based participatory research approach. We will randomly assign 168 participants to the intervention or control group. The intervention arm will attend 7 weekly 3.5-hour peer mentor and educational sessions. The control group will receive the educational information. We will assess health outcomes at baseline, immediately after the Joy Luck Academy, and at 1- and 4-month follow-ups. The primary outcome is quality of life, as measured by the Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy scale. Secondary outcomes include depressive symptoms, positive affect, fatigue, and perceived stress. We will also explore how the intervention influences cortisol levels. To identify how and to whom the program is effective, we will measure social and personal resources and theorized mechanisms and perform qualitative interviews with a subsample of participants to enhance the interpretation of quantitative data.

RESULTS: Recruitment began in February 2015, and data collection was completed in February 2019. We expect to complete data management by August 2021 and publish results in 2022.

CONCLUSIONS: If the Joy Luck Academy is demonstrated to be effective, it may be easily disseminated as an intervention for other groups of Asian American immigrant breast cancer survivors. Furthermore, similar programs could be integrated into other diverse communities.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere30950
Number of pages10
JournalJMIR research protocols
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 22 Sept 2021


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