The National Palliative Care Research Center

Curing suffering through palliative care research.


Desiree Azizoddin, PsyD, MS


Brigham and Women’s Hospital

Grant Year
Grant Term
2 years
Grant Type
Kornfeld Scholars Program

Project Description
Harnessing Mobile Technology to Deliver Tailored, Brief Pain-CBT for Advanced Cancer Patients on Opioids for Pain
Pain affects approximately two thirds of patients with advanced cancer, with rates approaching 90% near the end-of-life. Although pharmacotherapy is vitally important to alleviating chronic cancer pain, opioid medications have inherent limitations. Pain specific psychological treatments, including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for pain (pain-CBT) are effective and beneficial for chronic pain. Pain-CBT requires substantial adaptation to meet the real-life needs of patients with advanced cancer and should ideally integrate with pharmacotherapy support. Given the expansive need, mobile health technology is a promising strategy to tailor, deliver, and ultimately disseminate pain-CBT interventions to advanced cancer patients. 

As a pain psychologist and palliative care researcher, I propose developing a novel mHealth intervention that harmonizes psychological and medical support for advanced cancer pain. I will adapt core components of pain-CBT and integrate them into an existing NINR-funded cancer pain mHealth intervention. STAMP (Smartphone Technology to Alleviate Malignant Pain) is a patient-facing smartphone application that supports symptom and medication tracking, delivers tailored education and advice, and proactive outreach. With mentored support, I have a strategic opportunity to refine and augment this application to add pain-CBT including pain psycho-education, brief behavioral exercises, and adaptive self-monitoring. In Aim 1: I will modify pain-CBT to the advanced cancer context and for mHealth delivery, integrating clinician and patient (n=20) feedback throughout. In Aim 2: 25 patients with chronic pain from advanced cancer will use STAMP+CBT for 8 weeks. Findings will illuminate feasibility of app use and data collection, and allow for exploration of meaningful trends in pain, quality of life, psychological mediators of use, and care utilization. With my unique mentorship team, I will work towards my career development goals of refining my understanding for psychological treatments for advanced cancer, learning intervention development specific to mHealth, and tackling the complexity of combining pharmacotherapy with behavioral treatments. 


Desiree Azizoddin is a research faculty member in the Department of Emergency Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, with a joint appointment in the Department of Psychosocial Oncology and Palliative Care at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. Dr. Azizoddin graduated from the University of California with a BA in Psychology and Social Behavior and later received her MA and PsyD in Clinical Psychology from Loma Linda University. She completed her Behavioral Medicine clinical internship at the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center in Chicago, IL and a clinical fellowship in Pain Psychology at Stanford University Medical Center. Dr. Azizoddin is currently completing her postdoctoral research fellowship in Psychosocial Oncology and Palliative Care at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School. As a pain psychologist and behavioral scientist, her research focuses on developing technology-based interventions to improve cancer patients' pain management needs with opioids. She is particularly interested in identifying and treating the impact of psychological factors on chronic disease outcomes, especially pain. 

Email: Desiree_Azizoddin@DFCI.HARVARD.EDU