Prevention and Control

Nicole Pensak, PhD

Nicole Pensak, PhD, is Assistant Scientist in the Cancer Prevention and Control Program at John Theurer Cancer Center, Hackensack University Medical Center. She also holds a faculty appointment as Assistant Professor of Oncology at Georgetown University Medical Center.

Dr. Pensak is a Clinical Psychologist whose research focuses on evidence-based technological intervention development and dissemination for patients with advanced cancer and their caregivers. Her career goals are to continue to build an independent program of research while collaborating with multidisciplinary teams to improve quality of life and intimacy for patients with advanced disease and their caregivers.


Pep-Pal: A Cognitive Behavioral Stress Management Program
As the recipient of a National Palliative Care Research Center Career Development Award, Dr. Pensak is conducting a pilot randomized controlled trial (RCT) of a mobilized intervention (Pep-Pal) to help caregivers manage distress and to enhance intimacy among 60 caregivers with advanced cancer. The Pep-Pal program is a Cognitive Behavioral Stress Management program that consists of ten full-length sessions to teach caregivers various skills to manage their stress. In the current RCT, Dr. Pensak will assess acceptability and usability of the intervention and gain preliminary estimates of efficacy for the primary outcome (anxiety) and secondary outcomes (depression, stress, sexual functioning, and quality of life).

mHealth Intervention Development and Dissemination in Psychiatric Oncology
Dr. Pensak’s current research interests include technological intervention development and dissemination for patients with cancer and their caregivers. She aims to improve adherence to treatment, symptom management, and intimacy within cancer populations. She and her colleagues have developed several mHealth interventions to be disseminated online and via mobile technologies.

Amoyal Pensak, N..,Joshi, T., Simoneau, T., Kilbourn, K., Carr, A., Kutner, J. A. & Laudenslager, M. A. (2017) Qualitative Mobile Intervention Development Study for Addressing Distress in Caregivers of Patients Receiving Stem Cell Transplants: Formative Evaluation with Stakeholder Interviews and Focus Groups. Journal of Medical Internet Research- Research Protocols. DOI: 10.2196/resprot.7075.

Jacobs, J., Amoyal Pensak, N., Sporn, N., MacDonald, J., Lennes, I., Saffren, S., Pirl, W., Temel, J., & Greer, J. (2017) Treatment Satisfaction and Adherence to Oral Chemotherapy in Patients with Cancer. Journal of Oncology Practice. DOI: 10.1200/JOP.2016.019729  (13) 5, PMID: e474-e485.

Fishbein, J.N., Nisotel, L.E, MacDonald, J.J., Amoyal Pensak, N., Jacobs, J., Flanagan, C., Jethwani, K., & Greer, J. (2017) Development of a mobile application for adherence to oral chemotherapy and symptom management. Journal of Medical Internet Research. 6(4):e62. doi: 10.2196/resprot.6198, PMID: 28428158.

Greer, J., Amoyal N.R., Nisotel, L., Fishbein, J., MacDonald, J., Stagl, J., Temel, J.S., Saffren, S., & Pirl, W.F. (2016) A Systematic Review of Adherence to Oral Antineoplastic Therapies. Oncologist.

Amoyal, N.R., Nisotel, L., Dizon, D., Sexual Recovery after Cancer (2015). Current Sexual Health Reports.

Intervention Development and Dissemination for Medical Populations
Dr. Pensak has had significant research experience in health behavior change intervention development and dissemination for a variety of medical populations. Medical populations include, but are not limited to, patients with heart failure and burn injuries, those undergoing liver or kidney transplant, and patients with mild cognitive impairment.

Hooker, S.A., Schmiege, S., Trivedi, R., Amoyal, N.R, Bekelman, D.B. (2017) Mutuality and heart failure self-care in patients and their informal caregivers. European Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing. 1(12). DOI: 10.1177/1474515117730184.

Amoyal, N.R., Fernandez, A., Ng, R., Fehon, D. (2016) Measuring Coping Behavior in Liver Transplant Patients: A Psychometric Analysis of the Brief COPE. Progress in Transplantation.

Fernandez, A. C., Amoyal, N. R., Paiva, A., Prochaska, J. O.  (2016). Motivation for HPV vaccination among young adult men: Validation of TTM decisional balance and self-efficacy constructs. American Journal of Health Promotion, 30 (3), 163 – 171. PMCID – In Process.

Robbins, M.L., Paiva, A., Amoyal, N.R., Brick, L., Kessler, D., Burditt, C., Caltabiano, M., & Shaz, B. (2015). Acceptability and Feasibility of a Culturally Tailored Internet-Delivered Intervention to Promote Blood Donation in Blacks. Health Promotion Practice, 16(2), 227-35. PMID: 24801019.

Waterman, A. Robbins, M.L., Paiva, A., Peipert, J., Davis, L., Hyland, S., S. Schenk, E. Amoyal, N.R., (2015) Measuring Kidney Patients’ Motivation to Pursue a Living Donor Kidney Transplant: Development of Stage of Change, Decisional Balance and Self-efficacy Measures. Journal of Health Psychology. PMID: 2415594.

Waterman, A.D., Robbins, M.L., Paiva, A.L., Peipert, J.D., Kynard-Amerson, C.S., Goalby, C., Davis, L., Thein, J., Schenk, E., Baldwin, K.A., Skelton, S., Amoyal, N., & Brick, L. (2014).  Your Path to Transplant: A Randomized Controlled Trial of a Tailored Computer Education Intervention to Increase Living Donor Kidney Transplant. BMC Nephrology, 15,166. Epub doi: 10.1186/1471-2369-15-166. PMID: 25315644.

Fernandez, A., Lipshitz, J., Larson, E., Amoyal, N.R., Blaney, C., Sillice, M., Meyer, K., Redding, C., Prochaska, J. & Paiva, A. (2013). Disease Prevention without Relapse: Processes of Change for HPV Vaccination. Open Journal of Preventive Medicine. 3(3): 301-309.

Paiva, A.L., Amoyal, N.R., Johnson, J.L., & Prochaska, J.O. (2014). Adolescent Substance Use Initiation: Correlates of Profiles of Prevention. Journal of Early Adolescence.

Amoyal, N.R., Robbins, M., Paiva, A., Burditt, C., Kessler, D., & Shaz, B (2012). Measuring the Processes of Change for Increasing Blood Donation in Black Adults. Transfusion; 53(6):1280-90. Doi: 10.1111/j.1537-2995.2012.03864.x.

Amoyal, N.R., & Fallon, E (2012). Physical and Cognitive Exercise Clinical Interventions Potential for Slowing Degeneration in Mild Cognitive Impairment: A Review of the Recent Literature. Topics in Geriatric Rehabilitation, 28 (3): 208-216.

Paiva, A.L., Prochaska, J.O., Yin, H., Rossi, J.S., Redding, C.A., Blissmer, B, Robbins, M.L., Velicer, W.F., Lipschitz, J. M., Amoyal, N.R., Babbin, S., Blaney, CL., Sillice, M.A., Fernandez, A., McGee, H., & Horiuchi, S. (2012). Treated individuals who progress to action or maintenance for one behavior are more likely to make similar progress on another behavior: Coaction results of a pooled data analysis of three trials. Preventive Medicine, 54: 331-334.

Amoyal, N.R., Mason, S.T., Corry, N., Gould, N., Mahfouz, S. Barkey, A., & Fauerbach, J.A. (2011) Measuring Coping Behavior in Patients with Major Burn Injuries: A Psychometric Evaluation of the Brief COPE in a Burn Population. Journal of Burn Care Research, 32(3): 392-398.

Gould, N.F., McKibben, J., McCann, U., Amoyal, N.R., Corry, N., Hall, R., Mason, S.T., & Fauerbach, J.A. (2011) Peritraumatic heart rate as a predictor of acute stress disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder in patients with burn injury. The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. 72(4): 539-47.

Mason, S. T., Corry, N., Gould, N., Amoyal, N.R, Gabriel,V., Wiechman Askay, S., Holavanahalli, R., Banks, S., Arceneaux, L. L., & Fauerbach, J. A. (2010). Growth Trajectories of Distress in Burn Patients. Journal of Burn Care Research, January/ February 31(1):64-72.