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PhD candidate studies nonpharmacological pain relief during cancer treatment

Natalie Jackson, APRN, MSN, FNP-C

Natalie Jackson’s decade of working with melanoma patients inspired her to combine two noted strengths of Cizik School of Nursing at UTHealth’s research programs – symptom science and nonpharmacological pain treatments. 

Jackson, who is working toward a PhD, has received the $1,000 Elizabeth W. Quinn Oncology Research Award for a pilot project titled “Measuring the experience of tDCS to treat joint pain in patients with metastatic melanoma, undergoing treatment with immunotherapy: A qualitative study.” 

Her doctoral advisor, Hyochol “Brian” Ahn, PhD, MSN, APRN, is conducting pioneering research into transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) as treatment for joint pain. Jackson is also working with Meagan Whisenant, PhD, APRN, whose research focuses on symptom monitoring and management for cancer patients. 

“Joint pain can be a side effect of treatment or a chronic condition that is exacerbated by therapy,” explained Jackson, APRN, MSN, FNP-C. “Adding drugs on top of more drugs becomes difficult for patients to manage, so it would be nice if they could have a nonpharmacological option they could do at home.” 

Jackson’s study will examine not only the benefits of tDCS for patients with melanoma but their experiences in using the treatment equipment in their own homes. 

A clinical nurse practitioner in The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center’s Melanoma Medical Oncology department, Jackson earned her MSN at Texas Woman’s University and her BSN at The University of Texas at Austin.

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