Catherine Fiona Macpherson, PhD, RN, CPON

"I value the opportunity to not only make a difference to patients' cancer experience at a population level by conducting research to generate knowledge to inform practice, but also the opportunity to make a difference to patients' cancer experience at an individual level by walking beside them throughout their cancer journey."

  • Biography

    Dr. Catherine Fiona Macpherson is a staff nurse on the Cancer Care Inpatient Unit at Seattle Children's Hospital. She has practiced as a staff nurse in pediatric oncology throughout her entire career.

    She graduated with honors from the University of Toronto with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, earned a Master of Science in Nursing from Wayne State University, then a Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing Science from the University of Washington.

    Dr. Macpherson's clinical and research careers have focused on the care of children, adolescents, and young adults with cancer; with a particular focus on symptom assessment and management, psychosocial support, and end of life care, including patient, family, and professional loss and grief.

    In 2009 she founded The Consortium to Study Symptoms in Adolescents and Young Adults with Cancer (CS2AYAC). It is composed of 5 early-career nurse scientists from Children's Oncology Group affiliated institutions across the United States, representing the Pacific Northwest, Intermountain West, Midwest, and Southeast, and 2 senior nurse scientist mentors with extensive expertise in pediatric oncology and symptom research.

    Through a collaborative multi-site program of research the CS2AYAC facilitates the conduct of clinically meaningful studies in a small heterogeneous population. Through creation of a scientific community focused on fostering creativity and opportunities for each group member to pursue their passion, contribute their expertise, and grow their science within a group possessing diverse and complementary skills in quantitative and qualitative data analysis and providing both peer support and mentoring, the CS2AYAC also enhances the productivity of early-career scientists.

  • Patient Testimonials


Research Description

Approximately 90,000 adolescents and young adults (AYAs) are diagnosed with cancer yearly in the United States. AYAs with cancer experience multiple co-occurring and related symptoms from their disease and treatment that adversely affect their day-to-day lives. In 2011 my research group, the Consortium to Study Symptoms in Adolescents and Young Adults with Cancer (CS2AYAC), developed and evaluated the feasibility and acceptability of an innovative iPad application, the Computerized Symptom Capture Tool (C-SCAT). The C-SCAT combines graphical images and free text responses in a heuristics approach to explore symptoms and symptom clusters. It represents a paradigm shift to an inductive approach that considers how individuals interpret and give meaning to the totality of their symptom experience, including identifying symptoms of high priority to them and identifying interrelationships among symptoms. Following our initial study we revised the C-SCAT and using a single group pilot design tested the feasibility of using it to facilitate AYAs with cancer better understanding their symptom experience and discussing their symptom experience with their health care providers in order to improve symptom self-management. We then further revised the C-SCAT through structured usability evaluation cycles and in preparation for further testing of its effect on symptom self-management we developed a new instrument, the Symptom Self-Management Behaviors Tool (SSMBT), to measure symptom self-management behaviors in AYAs. In 2023 our R01 "A Randomized Controlled Trial Using a Heuristic Tool to Improve Symptom Self-Management in Adolescents and Young Adults with Cancer" was funded by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and will include enrollment of patients at Seattle Children's Hospital.