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Dr. Thomas is a leader in promoting self-advocacy among patients with cancer. She has developed a model and measure of how patients advocate for their needs and priorities within the context of their cancer experience – the Female Self-Advocacy in Cancer Survivorship Scale. Currently, her research evaluates the impact of a theoretically-based, patient-centered serious game (a motivational video game) intervention on women with advanced cancer’s self-advocacy skills, symptom burden, and use of health care services. She also works with clinical nurses to understand how nurses can promote self-advocacy among their patients. Dr. Thomas’s other areas of interest include cancer symptom management, instrument development and testing, and financial distress related to chronic health problems. Dr. Thomas partners with patient advocates, advocacy organizations, patients, and caregivers to implement patient empowerment within patients’ clinical experiences and social lives. She has received funding from the National Institute of Nursing Research (F31 NR014066), the American Cancer Society, the Oncology Nursing Foundation, Sigma Theta Tau International, Rockefeller University, the Beckwith Institute, and the Nightingale Awards of Pennsylvania in support of her research.
Dr. Thomas received her BA in anthropology and international peace studies at the University of Notre Dame before earning her BSN from the University of Pittsburgh. She received her PhD at the University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing with a focus in cancer survivorship and women’s health. She earned a certificate in Consumer Health Advocacy from the University of Wisconsin – Madison’s Center for Patient Partnerships.
Dr. Thomas has taught health policy, qualitative methods, oncology nursing, instrumentation, and community health to undergraduate and graduate students.
Dr. Thomas is an active board member of the Greater Pittsburgh Chapter of the Oncology Nursing Society. She continues to work as a Jonas Policy Scholar with the Women’s Health Expert Panel of the American Academy of Nursing. She is also the co-founder and chair of the Palliative Care Research Interest Group of the Eastern Nursing Research Society.
Serious games as a form a patient education
Self-advocacy interventions for women with advanced cancer
Symptom management needs of cancer survivors
Financial burden among cancer survivors
Curriculum Vitae (CV)
Public Policy in Healthcare