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School of Pharmacy|College of Health Sciences

Carol Kobulnicky and Mary Anne Purtzer Publication in Palliative and Supportive Care Journal

Carol J. Hermansen-Kobulnicky, Ph.D., R.Ph.Carol J. Hermansen-Kobulnicky, Ph.D., R.Ph., associate professor of social and administrative pharmacy, and Mary Anne Purtzer, Fay W. Whitney School of Nursing assistant professor, have a new publication (in press) in the Palliative and Supportive Care Journal titled, "'How I kept track of it of course was my business': Cancer patient self-monitoring as self-stylized work."

Hermansen-Kobulnicky and Purtzer examined cancer patients’ self-monitoring preferences and practices, focusing on the meaning of self-monitoring within the cancer experience. Self-monitoring includes journaling, tracking and recording of symptoms and other health-related events or experiences. There is evidence that such tracking can benefit patients, caregivers, and providers, and yet studying the phenomenon from the perspective of the cancer-patient has not been studied.

Using semi-structured interviews among adult cancer patients, Hermansen-Kobulnicky and Purtzer sought out the meaning of self-monitoring and its practical aspects. What they found reveals that patients develop and use unique self-monitoring preferences and practices that often stem from their work-life or home-life. The finding calls into question the assumption that the sole use of standardized tools are the most effective approach to engaging patients in this practice.

Other findings revealed patients do not always share their self-monitoring information with their providers for fear of seeming "odd" or "different". Self-monitoring efforts can be validated when providers specifically discuss the idea of tracking symptoms or other experiences and follow-up afterwards, welcoming and perhaps adapting patients’ self-stylized tools and systems. Doing so may present opportunity for improved communications and patient-centered care.


Carol J. Hermansen-Kobulnicky, Ph.D., R.Ph.

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