Dr. Barakat’s research focuses on the evidence-based assessment of psychosocial risk and resilience in families of children newly diagnosed with cancer. She also investigates the transition off treatment and family interventions to improve disease management and health-related quality of life, identifying strategies to increase recruitment and retention in pediatric clinical trials, and strategies to promote successful adaptation and transition to adult care for adolescents and young adults (AYA) with cancer. Her research involves psychosocial screening and AYA medical decision-making.
Families experience psychosocial distress and resiliencies at the initiation and completion of pediatric cancer treatment. Most families adapt and are able to cope with the stressors associated with a cancer diagnosis and treatment for their child; however, there are many missed opportunities for identifying psychosocial challenges for which we have effective interventions. Dr. Barakat’s research on psychosocial screening is responsive to calls to increase integration of systematic, universal, psychosocial screening into clinical care to improve outcomes for children with cancer and their families. In addition to implementation of psychosocial screening, Dr. Barakat and her team are analyzing acceptability, feasibility, and validity of psychosocial screening tools at various points across the course of treatment.
The research team developed and is testing a web-based decision support intervention to increase AYA involvement in clinical trials decision-making and improve decision processes for AYA and primary caregivers. Dr. Barakat and her colleagues are also validating a measure of attitudes toward clinical trials enrollment for AYA and their parents. This research is central to the goals established by the Children’s Oncology Group and National Cancer Institute to address the unique and unmet needs of AYA with cancer through increased research on availability of and enrollment in clinical trials.