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."

  • 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.


Research Description

The CS2AYAC developed and evaluated the feasibility and acceptability of an innovative iPad application, the Computerized Symptom Capture Tool (C-SCAT), which combines graphical images and free text responses in a heuristics approach to explore symptoms and symptom clusters. This represents a paradigm shift from a deductive to an inductive approach that considers how individuals interpret and give meaning to their symptom experience. We presented the C-SCAT development work and results of the initial C-SCAT feasibility and acceptability study in more than two dozen poster and podium sessions nationally and internationally. We published the primary results paper in Pediatric Blood and Cancer in 2014 followed by secondary results papers. Our current C-SCAT study focuses on generating preliminary data to demonstrate feasibility of an intervention using the C-SCAT to empower adolescents and young adults (AYAs) for symptom self-management. This will inform design of a randomized multi-site clinical trial. In addition to my program of research with CS2AYAC I am engaged in a variety of AYA-focused studies with colleagues across the country.