Featured Member - Ranak Trivedi, PhD

“My focus on South Asian women with breast cancer and their caregivers is personally meaningful to me, and is at the core of delivering precise and attentive care to those living with a life-altering illness.” - Ranak Trivedi, PhD

Ranak Trivedi, PhD has been awarded a Sojourns Scholars Award to study South Asian Family Approaches to Diseases (SAFAD): A Program to Enhance Caregiving among South Asian Women Living with Breast Cancer.

Dr. Trivedi’s objective is to develop a culturally attuned web-based behavioral intervention that mitigates the unmet psychosocial and community resource needs of South Asian women living with breast cancer and their caregivers. After Cancer spoke with Dr. Trivedi to find out more about her research.

AC: How did you get involved in studying about cultural differences in caregiving?

RT: Caregiving is a fundamentally human experience and rooted in culture and social context.  Yet, I was struck by the relatively little research on the cultural context especially among South Asian cultures.

AC: What are some of the differences you’ve seen between caregivers in different cultures?

RT: South Asian cultures are collectivist and the expectation is that patients will be cared for by a network of people, often women, and healthcare decisions will be made collectively.  Contrast this with individualist cultures where the patient is expected to be in charge of their conditions, perhaps with the help of a close family member such as a partner.

In more traditional patriarchal societies, women often rely on the patriarch (e.g., husband or father) to make the major health decisions. However, the men are not traditionally caregivers, and it falls on other women to play these roles such as preparing meals, or taking care of young children.  In many cases, the caregivers may have more diagnostic and prognostic information than the patients. I n more egalitarian cultures, the patient is the key decision maker and the caregiver may have a secondary role in decision making.

AC: What do you plan to do with the knowledge you will gain?

RT: During this 2-year project, we expect to take a deep dive into understanding the experience of South Asian women with breast cancer, understand who provides care to them, and what supports they expect from the healthcare system and community.  The survivorship experience of South Asians has not received close attention.  As I have highlighted in my December 2019 blog, caregiving and survivorship are both embedded in cultural contexts. Our project will improve our understanding of what South Asian survivors and their caregivers experience, and we will then be able to use these insights to provide better, more culturally relevant care at Stanford and beyond.