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Headshot of Rachel Hirschey
UNC Lineberger’s Rachel Hirschey, PhD, RN.

UNC Lineberger’s Rachel Hirschey, PhD, RN, has received a five-year, $795,103 National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities Mentored Patient-Oriented Research Career Development Award. She will use the grant to further her training in cancer disparities and to fund a feasibility trial that aims to increase physical activity and improve outcomes among African Americans receiving treatment for colorectal cancer.

Hirschey’s mentorship team includes UNC Lineberger’s Stephanie B. Wheeler PhD, MPH, Jennifer Leeman, MPH, DrPh, MDiv, Carmina Valle, PhD, Ashley Leak Bryant, PhD, RN-BC, OCN, Hannah K. Sanoff MD, MPH, and Claudio L. Battaglini, PhD.

“African American cancer patients and survivors often face a number of health disparities that adversely affect their physical and emotional well-being,” said Hirschey, who is an assistant professor in the UNC School of Nursing. “My research will focus on developing, in partnership with African American colon cancer survivors, a culturally targeted behavioral intervention to increase physical activity among African Americans being treated for colorectal cancer.”

The project will include the development of videos that aim to increase study participants’ physical activity knowledge, self-efficacy, outcome expectations, habits and enjoyment. The researchers will test the intervention to assess its reach, effectiveness, adoption, implementation and maintenance. They will measure several outcomes at baseline, three months and nine months, post baseline, including physical activity, symptoms and inflammation biomarkers.

Hirschey said insights generated from this project will serve as a foundation for developing additional behavioral interventions focused on other historically marginalized cancer survivors.