Research & Innovation

SSE’s Dr. Onur Asan Awarded Research Grant from Novartis on Medication Adherence in Cancer Patients

Research shows that many patients prescribed adjuvant endocrine therapy either discontinue early or skip a substantial number of pills.

Onur Asan, associate professor at the School of Systems & Enterprises (SSE), has been awarded a grant from Novartis for his project, “Exploring Nonadherence factors in cancer oral chemotherapy.”

Recognizing that adherence to oral medications is necessary in preventing breast cancer recurrence and for obtaining optimal medical outcomes, Asan explores contributing factors and possible solutions to address non-adherence in patients. According to the World Health Organization, adherence to chronic medications averages only 50% across a number of conditions and is a leading cause of preventable death. 

“With over 250,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer diagnosed last year and more than 3 million survivors, better support is needed to help women adhere to prescribed adjuvant endocrine therapies,” said Asan. “Nonadherence requires innovative solutions.”

Effectuating SSE’s mission to remedy real-world challenges through interdisciplinary systems, this project employs data analytics and human factor engineering to explore cancer patient behavior and decision making. Asan, whose studies focus on how technology and organizational culture can improve the quality of patient care in healthcare settings, hopes the outcomes of this research will provide new solutions to communicate the importance of medication adherence and to decrease preventable deaths in cancer patients.

As a global leader in pharmaceuticals, Novartis maintains a dataset of patients’ use of oral cancer medications. In his exploratory project, Asan will use the data from the Novartis database and analyze it using both quantitative and qualitative approaches to identify factors, risks, facilitators and barriers related to oral cancer medication use. Asan will act as the principal investigator of the project, administering the research over a one-year period throughout 2022.