September 23, 2015//
Meet Kristen Rosen. A UTSA Department of Psychology Ph.D. candidate, she recognized that there was a lack of research on using technology to enhance quality of life in breast cancer patients. And now, because of her, there's an app for that.
When I first started, there was very little research in this area. Researchers were saying we need to learn more. And now I get to be a part of it.”
– Kristen Rosen
With help from a local breast cancer foundation and breast cancer survivors, Rosen and her mentor, Jennifer Sharpe Potter, Ph.D., M.P.H., developed a mobile application that helps breast cancer patients to not only be aware of the emotions they deal with post-diagnosis but also to train themselves to deal with those emotions in a healthy way.
Because advances in breast cancer therapies and detection have improved survival rates over the years, researchers like Rosen are now focusing on quality of life in patients.
"Until now, there has been almost no research on using technology to enhance the quality of life of breast cancer patients by using mindfulness, which is moment by moment, non-judgmental awareness and attention," Rosen said.
The app is used as a training module, allowing users to participate in several exercises, including logging their feelings and doing mindful breathing exercises.
It's not uncommon for breast cancer patients to feel depression and anxiety after their diagnosis, Rosen said.
"Other quality of life issues, such as change in body image, can come up when someone's been diagnosed with breast cancer," she said. "Diagnosis can impact intimacy and even interpersonal relationships."
Patients who find ways to work through these emotions tend to have a better quality of life, Rosen added.
This innovative research Rosen is conducting was one of the reasons she was awarded The Graduate School's Outstanding Graduate Student Research Scholarship last spring.
"When I first started, there was very little research in this area. Researchers were saying we need to learn more. And now I get to be a part of it," Rosen said.
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