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2021 SIGMA Rising Star of Research and Scholarship nominee, Dr. Kelly Tan, presenting research findings at the annual meeting.

“Positive psychological states and stress responses in caregivers of adults receiving an allogeneic bone marrow transplant,” Kelly R. Tan, PhD, RN, AERO Small grant recipient final report.

Caregivers are a salient support system to patients with cancer. Caregivers provide not just clinical care, but personal and emotional support as well. Caregivers are extremely important in the lives on patients expecting to receive an allogeneic bone marrow transplant (BMT). BMT patients require constant caregiving to be evaluated for BMT, considering the adverse side effects that come because of BMT treatment. Because of the role caregivers play in BMT patients, Dr. Kelly Tan (UNC-CH ’21)  constructed her dissertation regarding this topic and also received an AERO small grant, which played a pivotal role in completing her dissertation.

It should be noted that research shows that caregivers of allogeneic BMT recipients are at higher risk of stress related symptoms than other caregivers of patients with cancer or non-caregivers. The stress related symptoms include anxiety, depression, fatigue, and sleep disturbance. Dr. Tan’s ultimate goal was to improve understanding of the psychological and symptom experiences throughout the peri-transplant period – the time before transplant to 12 weeks after transplant. The result of her dissertation findings suggest that the caregivers experience is based on the events that are occurring in relation to the patient’s BMT but also varies from person to person.

Dr. Tan’s study findings have the potential to impact the lives of not only caregivers, but the patients they’re caring for as well. Her work can improve caregiver health outcomes which would then positively impact the care they are providing to their loved ones. This meaningful work highlights the need of early psychosocial interventions to reduce caregiver anxiety and depression symptoms.

Dr. Tan plans to continue her research on caregiver health outcomes, positive psychologic, and stress related symptoms as a T32 Post-doctoral fellow in the Cancer Care Quality Training Program at the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and looks forward to attending and presenting at upcoming national conferences and adding more papers and data to the literature.


Current Publications and Presentations Stemming From Dissertation Work

  • Tan, K. R., Santacroce, S. J., Wood, W. A., Mayer, D. K., Santos, H., Mucha, P. J., Schwartz, T. A., & Fredrickson, B. L. (2021). Positive psychological states and stress responses in caregivers of adults receiving an allogeneic bone marrow transplant: A study protocol. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 10.1111/jan.14742. Advance online publication. PMCID: PMC8284914.


  • Tan, K. R., Fredrickson, B.L., Santos, H., Wood, W. A., Schwartz, T. A., Mayer, D. K. (Invited 2021). Case-oriented examination of caregiving for an allogeneic bone marrow transplant patient: Stress related symptom trends. Sigma Theta Ta International 46th Biennial Convention.
  • Tan, K.R., Santacroce, S.J., Mayer, D.K. Fredrickson, B.L., 2021. The theory of chronic stress responses and positive emotions in caregivers of adults with advanced cancer. Oncology Nursing Society 46th Annual ONS Congress, Virtual Conference.
  • Tan, K., Fredrickson, B. L., Mayer, D.K. 2020. Emotion, depression, and anxiety symptom trends in caregivers of allogeneic bone marrow transplant (BMT) recipients. Health Measurement Poster Presentation & Ongoing Project Feedback Session. Chapel Hill, NC.
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