The National Palliative Care Research Center

Curing suffering through palliative care research.


J. Nicholas Dionne-Odom, PhD, RN

Postdoctoral Fellow

University of Alabama at Birmingham

Grant Year
Grant Term
2 years
Grant Type
Junior Faculty Career Development

Project Description
Developing an Upstream Palliative Care Telehealth Intervention for Family Caregivers of Persons with Advanced Cancer Living in the Rural South

This NPCRC Junior Faculty CDA application describes the background and experience of the applicant, J. Nicholas Dionne-Odom, PhD, RN, and his plan to acquire the training necessary to become a leading independent scientist in developing and testing telehealth palliative care interventions that optimize the outcomes of rural Southern family caregivers (FCGs) of persons with advanced cancer. The specific training objectives are to: (1) develop and tailor interventions, by gaining advanced understanding of: 1a) community engagement in research using mixed methods; 1b) developing, manualizing, and assessing fidelity of an intervention; 1c) cutting edge telehealth and other m-health developments; and 1d) spiritually- and faith-based- oriented interventions; (2) develop skills to design and lead RCTs relevant to family caregiving; and (3)  augment knowledge and skills in health coaching/motivational interviewing. The research specific aims are: through interviews with rural dwelling persons with advanced cancer, their primary FCGs, and lay healthcare navigators, (1) Identify and describe the palliative care needs and challenges of FCGs of advanced cancer patients living in the rural South and their perceptions of the FCG’s role in healthcare decision-making and (2) develop and tailor the content, format and delivery of a telehealth intervention for rural Southern advanced cancer FCGs. To meet the training objectives, a comprehensive training plan has been developed in concert with an interdisciplinary mentorship team of senior research experts. The plan includes intensive one-on-one mentorship, formal coursework/workshops, clinical trial research observerships, and conference attendance.Data generated through this project will directly support a NPCRC Pilot and Exploratory Project Support Grant, NIH/NINR R-grant, or PCORI Pilot Grant application to conduct a small-scale pilot RCT with rural Southern advanced cancer FCGs to assess acceptability, feasibility, and potential efficacy of a newly developed FCG intervention.

J. Nicholas Dionne-Odom, PhD, RN is currently a postdoctoral fellow in the Cancer Prevention and Control Training Program at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) and a UAB Health Disparities Research Training Program Scholar. His research interests are focused on developing and testing early, multicomponent palliative care interventions partnering with lay healthcare navigators to support rural and underserved family caregivers of care recipients with advanced illness living in the Deep South, particularly advanced cancer and heart failure. Dr. Dionne-Odom is also interested in the role and application of cognitive psychology, naturalistic decision-science theory, and eHealth to family caregiving and decision-making. He will also be co-leading the AAHPM/HPNA State of the Science Plenary Session for the next several years. Dr. Dionne-Odom is a 2015 NPCRC Career Development awardee.