PCORI Award to Explore Quality of Life for Cancer Patients

June 23, 2015

DETROIT – A clinical research award from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute’s (PCORI) Pipeline to Proposal program may help Henry Ford Hospital otolaryngologist Steven Chang, M.D., answer this question: “What's the SCOOP?”

The “SCOOP” is squamous cell carcinoma of the oropharynx – a cancer that affects part of the throat, base of tongue, tonsils, soft palate and the pharynx.

And the real question is focused on learning from long-term survivors how to improve both treatment options and post-treatment rehabilitation of this cancer to advance quality-of-life outcomes for patients.

Oropharyngeal cancer has been on the rise during the past 35 years, and it’s predicted to outnumber cervical cancer cases in the U.S. by 2020.

The face of oropharyngeal cancer is changing too – from older white males with strong tobacco use to non-smoking patients who are younger than age 45 and have cancer that responds better to treatment.

With a greater number of younger survivors, come different expectations for quality of life following cancer treatment

“The current first-line treatment is either chemo-radiation or surgery, offering different quality-of-life outcomes. Current clinical trials don’t accommodate for the patient’s wishes, perspective and choice of treatment, which is very important in the real-world practice of medicine,” says Dr. Chang, a surgeon in the Department of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery at Henry Ford Hospital.

Dr. Chang will use the funds provided through PCORI’s Pipeline to Proposal program to build a partnership of individuals and groups who share a desire to advance patient-centered outcomes research focused on discovering quality-of-life outcomes that matter to SCOOP patients and their families.

The Henry Ford project led by Dr. Chang is one of 47 to receive community-building funding support through the Pipeline to Proposal Awards program. The awards, totaling $700,000, support initiation of community-building projects that can lead to research proposals.

The Pipeline to Proposal Awards enable those not typically involved in clinical research to develop the means to develop community-led funding proposals focused on patient-centered comparative effectiveness research.

The program funds three tiers of awards that help individuals or groups build community partnerships, develop research capacity, and hone a comparative effectiveness research question that could become the basis of a research funding proposal to submit to PCORI or other health research funders.

As a Tier I Award recipient, Dr. Chang will receive $15,000 to build community partnerships and begin developing governance structures, communications plans, and potential research questions.

“Our Tier I goal creates a patient advisory council of head and neck cancer survivors and caregivers in Michigan, then expands virtually through the Cancer Research Network to provide input about the patient experience after these treatments.”

The survivors and caregivers council will provide Dr. Chang and his team with valuable insight into short- and long-term outcomes that are important to them.

He says the next phase, Tier II, will engage the council in comparative effectiveness research proposing a pragmatic trial of treatment strategies (surgery vs. radiation) in SCOOP patients. The trial will be patient-centered with primary quality-of-life outcomes.

“The Pipeline to Proposal Awards program is a manifestation of PCORI’s commitment to the meaningful involvement of patients, caregivers, clinicians, and other stakeholders in all our research endeavors,” said Jean Slutsky, PA, MSPH, PCORI's chief engagement and dissemination officer.

“It provides support to those who may not otherwise have an opportunity to contribute to the field of comparative effectiveness research. We’re pleased to follow the awardees’ progress as they develop partnerships and begin to form research questions.”

Tier I funding is the first phase of PCORI’s three-tier Pipeline to Proposal Awards program. Tier I awards fund community-building and engagement projects. Tier II awards of up to $25,000 further enhance projects’ capacities, and Tier III awards of up to $50,000 support the development of high-quality, patient-centered research proposals that can be submitted to PCORI or other funders.

Tier I award recipients have up to nine months to complete their proposed work after which they can apply for Tier II funding.


The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute is an independent, non-profit organization authorized by Congress in 2010. Its mission is to fund research that will provide patients, their caregivers and clinicians with the evidence-based information needed to make better-informed healthcare decisions. PCORI is committed to continuously seeking input from a broad range of stakeholders to guide its work.

Learn more about the Department of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery at Henry Ford.

For more information about Henry Ford Health System’s Patient-Engaged Research Center, a new approach to research that empowers Henry Ford patients and their family to ask questions, be involved and actively participate in studies that improve the patient’s quality of life, go to PERC.

Krista Hopson Boyer
(313) 874-7207
[email protected]