Behavior plays a crucial role in cancer-related morbidity and mortality and is influenced by various biological, cognitive, emotional, motivational, and interpersonal factors. Thus, Cancer Behavioral Sciences play a key role in understanding the psychological, social, and behavioral aspects of cancer prevention, treatment, and survivorship. These aspects include patient behavior, adherence to treatment regimens, psychological well-being, quality of life, and the impact of social support systems, among others.

Therefore, a systematic and interactive process can help inform efforts to address cancer-related outcomes, including tobacco, alcohol, and other recreational substance use as well as diet, physical activity, sun exposure, dependence on misinformation related to cancer, knowledge, genetic testing, adherence to treatment, and acceptance of palliative care.

The purpose of the Cancer Behavioral Sciences Working Group at Legorreta Cancer Center at Brown University and affiliated Health Systems Lifespan and Care New England is to advance the integration of basic behavioral science with cancer prevention and control. 

To accomplish this, the group has been investigating the extent to which behavioral interventions alter cognitions underlying behavior, how emerging technological innovations including digital technologies, the emerging field of implementation science, and the impact of health disparities and inequities might facilitate behavioral measurement and intervention in areas including smoking cessation, diet, physical activity, sun exposure, and others.

In addition, the group is considering how decision science principles can be applied to genetic testing decisions, how the cognitive effects of chemotherapy impair self-regulation, and the extent to which emotional factors drive palliative care decisions. Because the cancer survivor population is continuously growing, another key focus area involves understanding and addressing the health care and other needs of cancer survivors including cognitive dysfunction and financial toxicity.

The group is currently developing various activities to build capacity for research in these areas including regular meetings, invited speaker seminars, training workshops, as well as collaborative grant opportunities.


To enhance our understanding of the behavioral factors related to cancer and develop interventions to improve patient outcomes.

To accomplish this, the group will develop themes as it relates to cancer, identify stakeholders, links to other LCC Programs, catchment area review, what behavioral health pieces are missing, what other Cancer Centers have in place, national figures to speak to the group to increase the breadth, depth, and quality of behavioral research in cancer prevention and control.

Working group leaders and members

The group includes experts from various disciplines, such as psychology, psychiatry, social work, epidemiology, oncology, and public health who come together to address the psychological, social, and behavioral aspects of cancer. Their primary roles and functions may include collaborative research,  intervention development, patient support and education, policy and advocacy, training and education, and knowledge dissemination. 

Jasjit Ahluwalia
Howard Safran
Susan Colby
Jen Tidey
Don Dizon
Bess Markus
Sendurai Mani
Wafik El-Deiry

Co-Chair: Lisa Uebelacker
Co-Chair: Laura Stroud
Administration: Shiyoko Cothren


Wafik S. El Deiry, MD, PhD, FACP
Director, Legorreta Cancer Center at Brown University
Associate Dean for Oncologic Sciences
Mencoff Family University Professor of Medical Science
Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine

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