Research Overview

Dr. Mack's research focuses on communication between physicians and parents of children with cancer. Specific interests include prognosis communication, decision-making at the end of life, and the ways that communication impacts adjustment to illness.

Current projects include a longitudinal cohort study about prognosis communication between parents and physicians of children with cancer. This study is underway at Dana-Farber Children's Cancer Center and the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. Through this study Dr Mack aims to evaluate parents' understanding of prognosis, the extent to which they want prognostic information about their children, and the emotional impact of prognostic information. In addition, she is assessing the ways that information needs and knowledge change over time in the first year after a cancer diagnosis.

A second project involves assessment of the ways that communication about relapsed cancer affects parents' sense of hope for their children. Through audiotaped conversations between parents and physicians and in-depth parent interviews, Dr Mack will assess parents' expectations for their children's prognoses as well as their hopes.

Despite evidence that patients and parents want prognostic information, physicians are often reluctant to provide such information because of worries about its harms, including distress and loss of hope. Yet this information may be instrumental in helping parents to make appropriate decisions for their child's care. The ultimate goal of Dr. Mack's work is to help parents to make value-driven decisions for their children with cancer.

About the Researcher

Jenny Mack is a pediatric oncologist and outcomes researcher at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Boston Children's Hospital. After graduating from Harvard Medical School, she completed residency training in Pediatrics at Boston Children's Hospital followed by fellowship training in Pediatric Hematology/Oncology and Pediatric Palliative Care at the Dana-Farber/ Children's Hospital Cancer Center. She also completed the Harvard Pediatric Health Services Research Fellowship and received a Masters degree in Public Health from the Harvard School of Public Health in 2005.

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Researcher Areas

  • Hematology/Oncology

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