Grant Application

Kimberly Atiyeh, MD, Eye and Ear Institute

Proposed Innovation

Patients who undergo treatment for head and neck cancer often experience changes that affect their daily functions. Common problems include changes in saliva, excessive thick mucus, loss of taste, difficulty swallowing, lockjaw, and loss of teeth. While complications may be difficult to avoid, patients who have the right understanding of their health information, resources, and options can take steps to manage and even prevent problems.

This project seeks to assess the current level of health literacy among patients to determine needs and develop educational tools aimed at improving understanding and empowering them to make appropriate health decisions.

Improvements in Action

Head and neck cancer survivors will be assessed using validated surveys to evaluate their confidence in tasks such as filling out medical forms, reading hospital materials, and understanding medication instructions. Once gaps in patient education are identified, the project team aims to distribute a digital resource package, including videos, documents, and contacts. Repeat surveys will be used to reassess health literacy and the patients’ own sense of understanding.

Intended Outcomes

Providing easily accessible and understandable information about head and neck cancer treatment options and complications is expected to empower patients in their own care. The project team hopes to see increased engagement in self-education and use of the Head and Neck Cancer Survivorship Clinic’s online resources.