School of Medicine
Lari Wenzel, professor of medicine and public health


UC Irvine receives $1.9-million research award 

Aug. 15, 2013 UC Irvine Health School of Medicine researchers have received a $1.9 million award from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) to create and study the use of a new, personalized approach to shared treatment decision-making for newly diagnosed ovarian cancer patients.

Lari Wenzel, professor of medicine and public health, will lead the effort to develop and test a tablet-computer app that will assist newly diagnosed ovarian cancer patients to learn about and understand the trade-offs between chemotherapy options for treating the disease.

Women with advanced ovarian cancer face two options: intraperitoneal (IP)-intravenous (IV) chemotherapy versus IV-only chemotherapy delivery.

Although survival benefits are significantly greater with IP therapy, there are more toxicities. The tradeoffs associated with short-term reduced quality of life and longer survival, compared to potentially better quality of life short term with possible compromised survival poses decision-making challenges for patients and providers. 

“This new and unique decision aid will allow patients to assimilate information and identify trade-offs about the impact of IP-IV therapy versus IV-only therapy on their quality of life and survival, based on their own personal preferences and clinical characteristics, described in terms that are meaningful to them,” Wenzel said. 

Having access to such a decision aid is expected to improve patients’ ability to make informed decisions and increase their satisfaction with both the decision making process and the care they receive in general.

The development of the decision aid app will be led by Wenzel and Dana Mukamel, a UC Irvine professor of medicine. Mukamel’s expertise in preference assessment and decision-making complements Wenzel’s research group’s expertise in ovarian cancer survivorship. 

The two will also be working with Robert Bristow and Kathryn Osann at UC Irvine, clinicians from several universities and cancer centers across the country, and ovarian cancer stakeholder groups such as the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition, In My Sister’s Care and the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance, to test the app and ensure that it meets patients’ needs. 

“We are excited about this project and grateful to PCORI for giving us the opportunity to work towards improving ovarian cancer patient centered care,” Wenzel said.

The UC Irvine study was selected through a highly competitive review process in which scientists, patients, caregivers and other stakeholders helped to evaluate more than 400 applications for funding. This study is part of a portfolio of patient-centered research that addresses PCORI’s national research priorities and will provide patients with information that will help them make better informed decisions about their care.