Suzanne C. Lechner, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences
Description of Research
Dr. Lechner’s research in psycho-oncology focuses on positive adaptation to cancer and health disparities among cancer survivors. Dr. Lechner leads biobehavioral clinical trials and performs longitudinal research studies to examine how people adjust to illness and whether psychological, physical and physiological adjustment is modifiable using stress management and breast cancer education. Dr. Lechner’s survivorship laboratory is currently examining the effects of stress management interventions on immunological, endocrine, and psychological outcomes for black women with breast cancer who have recently completed treatment. This research program, dubbed Project CARE, is supported by the National Cancer Institute (NIH). The goal of this line of research is to develop theoretically-driven and empirically-supported psychosocial interventions for underserved women with breast cancer within a community setting.
Dr. Lechner is also examining the development of positive and negative perceptions of breast cancer through the cancer experience. This area of investigation examines the construct of benefit-finding (the perception that having cancer has certain benefits, such as deepened personal relationships, enhanced personal strength, or clearer priorities about what is important in life).
She has a strong research interest in the field of Psychoneuroimmunology. In collaboration with Dr. Bonnie Blomberg and Dr. Mike Antoni, the team is examining the psychophysiologic mechanisms associated with cancer morbidities among black women. This research is being funded by the Interdisciplinary Research Development Initiative.
Other research interests include long-term follow-up of participants who have completed biobehavioral intervention trials, late stage presentation of breast cancer, and adapting psychosocial interventions to meet the needs of minority women.
- Stress management interventions and breast cancer education interventions can be effectively tailored to meet the needs of low-income and underserved black women.
- Stress management improves quality of life for women diagnosed with non-metastatic breast cancer via reductions in intrusive thoughts, lowered anxiety, enhanced relaxation skills and improved psychological states of mind. Such changes are associated with reductions in cortisol and changes in immune functioning, particularly cytokines, reflecting better immunoregulation.
Selected Cancer-Related Publications
- Vargas S, Wohlgemuth WK, Antoni MH, Lechner SC, Holley HA, Carver CS. Sleep dysfunction and psychosocial adaptation among women undergoing treatment for non-metastatic breast cancer. Psychooncology 19:669-73, 2010 Read more »
- Blomberg BB, Alvarez JP, Diaz A, Romero MG, Lechner SC, Carver CS, Holley H, Antoni MH. Psychosocial adaptation and cellular immunity in breast cancer patients in the weeks after surgery: An exploratory study. J Psychosom Res 67:369-76, 2009. Read more »
- Antoni MH, Lechner S, Diaz A, Vargas S, Holley H, Phillips K, McGregor B, Carver CS, Blomberg B. Cognitive behavioral stress management effects on psychosocial and physiological adaptation in women undergoing treatment for breast cancer. Brain Behav Immun 23:580-91, 2009. Read more »
- Traeger L, Penedo FJ, Gonzalez JS, Dahn JR, Lechner SC, Schneiderman N, Antoni MH. Illness perceptions and emotional well-being in men treated for localized prostate cancer. J Psychosom Res 67:389-97, 2009. Read more »
Collaborating in the Multidisciplinary Research Program(s):