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Dr. Barakat's research is focused on examining risk-and-resilience models to characterize disease management and health-related quality of life of children with chronic health conditions and their families. Another focus of investigation is translation of these models into evidence-based assessment (family psychosocial risk screening) as well as family-based, mHealth interventions to improve disease management and to support medical decision-making for youth with cancer and their families.
Dr. Barakat's research focuses on the evidence-based assessment of psychosocial risk and resilience in families of children newly diagnosed with cancer. She also investigates the transition off treatment and family interventions to improve disease management and health-related quality of life, identifying strategies to increase recruitment and retention in pediatric clinical trials, and strategies to promote successful adaptation and transition to adult care for adolescents and young adults (AYA) with cancer. Her research involves psychosocial screening and AYA medical decision-making.
Families experience psychosocial distress and resiliencies at the initiation and completion of pediatric cancer treatment. Most families adapt and are able to cope with the stressors associated with a cancer diagnosis and treatment for their child; however, there are many missed opportunities for identifying psychosocial challenges for which we have effective interventions. Dr. Barakat's research on psychosocial screening is responsive to calls to increase integration of systematic, universal, psychosocial screening into clinical care to improve outcomes for children with cancer and their families. In addition to implementation of psychosocial screening, Dr. Barakat and her team are analyzing acceptability, feasibility, and validity of psychosocial screening tools at various points across the course of treatment.
The research team developed and is testing a web-based decision support intervention to increase AYA involvement in clinical trials decision-making and improve decision processes for AYA and primary caregivers. Dr. Barakat and her colleagues are also validating a measure of attitudes toward clinical trials enrollment for AYA and their parents. This research is central to the goals established by the Children’s Oncology Group and National Cancer Institute to address the unique and unmet needs of AYA with cancer through increased research on availability of and enrollment in clinical trials.
Education and Training
BA, Villanova University (Psychology), 1985
PhD, University of South Carolina (Clinical-Community Psychology), 1991
Fellowship, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (Pediatric Psychology), 1996
Titles and Academic Titles
Director, Psychosocial Services and Behavioral Oncology Research Programs, Division of Oncology, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
Co-Chief, Academic Affairs, DCAPBS Division of Integrated Psychiatry, Psychology, and Behavioral Health
Professor of Clinical Psychology, Departments of Pediatrics and Psychiatry, Perelman School of Medicine of the University of Pennsylvania
American Psychological Association, 2008
Allen Rothwarf Award for Teaching Excellence, Drexel University, 2001
American Psychological Association Leadership Institution on Women in Psychology, 2008
Mentor of the Year Award, Graduate Student Association, Drexel University, 2008
Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation/CHOP Cancer Center Pitcher of Hope Award, 2019