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Sarah M. Belcher

Assistant Professor
Health & Community Systems


Dr. Belcher’s research is dedicated to improving health outcomes among patients with cancer, particularly among patients with high symptom burden and advanced cancer and among socioeconomically disadvantaged and underserved populations. Her research and training have been supported by the American Cancer Society (DSCN-17-077-01-SCN), the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Future of Nursing Scholars program, the Nightingale Awards of Pennsylvania, the Center for Nursing Excellence in Palliative Care (NEPC-2018-01) at Emory University, the Alpha Epsilon chapter of Sigma in Atlanta, and the National Institute of Nursing Research. Her active career development award is investigating how adherence to oral anticancer medication affects pain and quality of life and how financial hardship influences these relationships over time among patients with multiple myeloma (K23 NR019296). Her prior research identified predictors of poor health outcomes among adults with multiple primary cancers and relationships between financial hardship and quality of life among patients with advanced and high symptom burden cancers. She has also collaborated on cancer family caregiver studies. 

Dr. Belcher received her BSN from The Ohio State University. She completed an oncology nursing internship at Duke University Medical Center. She earned her PhD at the University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing with a focus in cancer survivorship. Her postdoctoral fellowship was in biobehavioral oncology at Emory University Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing. She is currently enrolled in the Health Equity certificate program at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health.

Dr. Belcher is a National Cancer Institute Loan Repayment Program awardee and is an Early Career Reviewer program participant for the National Institute of Health’s Center for Scientific Review.

Scholarly Emphasis

  • Cancer survivorship
  • Cancer and cancer therapy outcomes, with a focus on financial hardship
  • Health equity and social determinants of health Symptom science
  • Adherence
  • Symptom science 

MyNCBI Bibliography


Dr. Belcher teaches Health Promotion and Disease Prevention among Culturally Diverse Populations to graduate students and Intro to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion to undergrads. An Oncology Certified Nurse (OCN®) with experience in nursing management and expertise in cancer care across the disease trajectory, she was previously a clinical instructor in foundational, acute care, and community health nursing courses. She guest lectures on career development, mentorship, and numerous aspects of oncology nursing and has mentored nursing students across levels of training.


Dr. Belcher is an active member of the Oncology Nursing Society and is a panelist and the nurse lead on the ONS Guidelines to Support Patient Adherence to Oral Anticancer Medications. Her work helped create national guidelines for adherence to oral anticancer medication: Maintain Oral Adherence With ONS Guidelines™.  She is a member of the Palliative Care Research Cooperative Group and the UPMC Hillman Cancer Center Biobehavioral Cancer Control Program. She serves on the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion committee in the School of Nursing. She has provided numerous oncology and scientific career focused presentations to local oncology nurses and to school-age children in local public schools.