StoryCorps to capture patients’ stories at Siteman Cancer Center

Nationally recognized StoryCorps will visit the Siteman Cancer Center Friday, April 17, through Tuesday, April 21, as part of a collaborative project to better understand how parents with cancer discuss the diagnosis with their children.

This visit is the first time that StoryCorps, the largest oral history project of its kind, has partnered to collect the stories of cancer survivors on a single topic.

In addition to gathering stories about how parents communicate with their children, the study intends to identify the most effective ways for parents to tell their children about this disease.

StoryCorps also will visit Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish West County Hospital April 24-27 and Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish St. Peters Hospital April 30-May 3.

“Most parents diagnosed with cancer aren’t sure how to talk to their kids about it, and there aren’t many resources available to help them,” said Matthew Kreuter, Ph.D., an adviser on this StoryCorps partnership and director of the Health Communications Research Laboratory at the George Warren Brown School of Social Work. “This project will help future cancer patients prepare for and make the most of these conversations.”

Kreuter also is a professor at the Brown School and holds an appointment at the School of Medicine. Additionally, he is a scholar at the Washington University Institute for Public Health.

While at each Siteman Cancer Center, trained facilitators from StoryCorps will record six pairs per day. To be eligible, participants must be willing to share in detail how they told their family members or friends that they had cancer. The family member or friend should be able to recall and share detailed memories of being told the participant had cancer. If a patient or survivor is alone, a facilitator will conduct the interview.

To help guide the discussion during the 40-minute interview, StoryCorps facilitators will provide the participants with a list of suggested questions.

Pairs also must be willing to take part in a survey and an interview after the recording.

“StoryCorps is perfectly positioned to gather stories on cancer-related topics,” said Linda Squiers, Ph.D., principal investigator of the research project and a senior health communication analyst at RTI International, a nonprofit research institute. “We hope to pave the way for StoryCorps to gather stories at other cancer centers across the country. If we are able to use these stories to develop communication tools for newly diagnosed parents, we will fill a large gap in clinical resources for patients.”

For more information or to register for an interview, call 935-3768.