Laurel Northouse, PhD, RN, FAAN

Laurel Northouse

Professor Emerita
Room 2160 400NIB

University of Michigan School of Nursing
400 North Ingalls Building
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-5482

Telephone: (734) 763-0002
Fax: (734) 936-5525


  • Cancer
  • Caregivers
  • Intervention studies to improve outcomes in cancer patients and family members
  • Translation and dissemination of evidence-based programs of care in oncology
  • Quality of life, predictors of emotional and physical well-being in cancer survivors and their family caregivers

Dr. Northouse is a nurse scientist in the field of cancer research. She has conducted numerous studies that describe the effect of cancer on the family, and developed a model to identify patients and family members at higher risk of developing emotional distress following a diagnosis of cancer.

Over the past 20 years, she has developed and tested a family-based program of care called FOCUS (Family involvement, Optimistic attitude, Coping effectiveness, Uncertainty reduction, Symptom management) for cancer patients and their family caregivers. This program provides participants with information about the illness and support. The program addresses ways to help patients and caregivers communicate effectively, maintain hope, use active coping strategies, obtain information, and manage symptom distress. The FOCUS Program was originally delivered by nurses using a combination of face-to-face home visits and telephone calls. Dr. Northouse and her colleagues also developed a tailored, web-based version of the program to help cancer patients and their family caregivers communicate more effectively while managing the demands of cancer. More recently, Dr. Northouse and colleagues conducted a series of implementation studies to determine the effect of the FOCUS Program on patient and caregiver outcomes when the program was implemented in various Cancer Support Community affiliates in the U.S. (Michigan, Ohio, California) by agency social workers and family therapists. Currently, Dr. Northouse is collaborating with palliative care researchers in Europe who will be comparing outcomes associated with a web-delivered versus nurse-delivered program, that is based on the FOCUS Program, with advanced cancer patients and their family caregivers in six countries in Europe (Denmark, Netherlands, England, Ireland, Belgium, and Italy). This study is being funded by the European Union (J.Cohen, PI).

Dr. Northouse's research has been funded by the National Institute for Nursing Research, National Cancer Institute, American Cancer Society, Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving, Michigan Institute for Clinical and Health Research, and the Michigan Department of Community Health.

Current Research Grants and Programs

  • 2017-2022 - Efficacy of a Couple-focused, Tailored Symptom Self-Management mHealth Intervention for Prostate Cancer Patients and Partners. Grant from the National Institute for Nursing Research, R01NR016990 (L.Song, PI) (L.Northouse, Consultant).
  • 2019-2024 - Evaluation of Dyadic Psychoeducational Interventions for People with Advanced Cancer and their Informal Caregivers: An International Randomized Controlled Trial. Grant from the European Union (J.Cohen, Belgium, PI) (L. Northouse, Consultant).


Prior to achieving emerita faculty status, Dr. Northouse’s primary teaching responsibilities were courses on research methods at the undergraduate, masters, and doctoral levels and on implementing evidence-based research findings in nursing practice. She was also a frequent guest lecturer for undergraduate courses on topics related to helping families of patients with a serious illness. She gave guest lectures in the School of Nursing and in the School of Public Health on topics that pertained to conducting theory-based intervention studies. Dr. Northouse has directed a number of doctoral dissertations and masters research projects on topics related to cancer survivorship, caregiving, family communication, and psychosocial adjustment to chronic illness.

Affiliations / Service

  • Member, National Advisory Board, Cancer Support Community, Cancer Experience Registry: Caregivers (2014-present)
  • Member, Advisory Committee, POLARIS (Predicting Optimal Cancer Rehabilitation and Supportive Care), International Data and Sharing Project, Amsterdam (2014-present)
  • Member, Planning Committee, Caring for Caregivers and Patients: Revisiting the Research and Clinical Priorities for Informal Caregiving. National Cancer Institute and National Institute for Nursing Research (2015)
  • Member, Board of Directors, American Psycho-Oncology Society (2010-2013)
  • Co-Chair, Prostate Advisory Committee, Michigan Department of Community Health, 2006-2013
  • Co-Director, Socio-behavioral Program, University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center, 2004-2012
  • Member, Research Priorities Committee, Oncology Nursing Society, 2009-2011
  • Member, National Caregiving Quality Committee, Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving, 2009-2012

Notable Awards / Honors

  • Fellow in the American Academy of Nursing, 1993
  • Oncology Nursing Society Mara Morgensen Flaherty Award for significant contributions to psychosocial care of people with cancer and their family caregivers, 2012
  • Oncology Nursing Society Distinguished Researcher Award for excellence in oncology nursing science, 2013
  • Spirit of Collaboration Award, Michigan Cancer Consortium, State of Michigan for excellent academic-community partnership to improve care for oncology patients and their family caregivers, 2013
  • Harold Burdette Award for Excellent in Research, Walther Cancer Program, Indiana for significant contributions to behavioral research with cancer patients and their families, 2013
  • Excellence in Research Award, Sigma Theta Tao, Rho Chapter, 2014


  • PhD (Nursing Research), University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, 1985
  • MSN (Mental Health Nursing), Wayne State University, Detroit, MI, 1979
  • MA (Counseling Psychology), Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, MI, 1978
  • BSN, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, 1970

Publication Highlights

  • Song, L., Tan, X., Bredle, J., Bennett, A.V., Northouse, L. (2020). Psychometric properties of the FACT-G quality of life scale for family caregivers of cancer patients. Quality of Life Research, published online April 3, 2020,

  • Katapodi, M.C., Ming, C., Northouse, L.L., Duffy, S.A., Duquette, D., Mendelson-Victor, K.E., Milliron, K.J., Merajver, S.D., Dino, I.D., & Janz, N.K. (2020). Genetic testing and surveillance of young breast cancer survivors and blood relatives: A cluster randomized trial. Cancers, published online doi:10.3390/cancers12092526.

  • Titler, M.G., Shuman, C., Dockham, B., Harris, M, & Northouse, L.L. (2020). Acceptability of FOCUS, a dyadic psycho-educational intervention for people with cancer and their family caregivers delivered using a small group format in the community. Oncology Nursing Forum, 47 (3), 342-351. DOI 10.1188/20.ONF.

  • Longacre, M.L., Applebaum, A.J., Buzaglo, J.S., Miller, M.F., Golant, M., Rowland, J.H., Given, B., Dockham, B., & Northouse, L. (2018). Reducing informal caregiver burden in cancer: Evidence-based programs in practice. Translational Behavioral Medicine,8,145-155. DOI:10.1093/tbm/ibx028

  • Ellis, K.R., Janevic, M.R., Kershaw, T., Caldwell, C.H., Janz, N., & Northouse, L. (2017). Engagement in health-promoting behaviors and interdependence of patient-caregiver dyads facing advanced cancer. Journal of Behavioral Medicine. DOI:10.1007/s/0865-016-9819-6

  • Dockham, B., Schafenacker, A., Yoon, H., Ronis, D., Kershaw, T., Titler, M. & Northouse, L.L., (2016). Implementation of a psycho-educational program for cancer patients and family caregivers at a Cancer Support Community Affiliate: A pilot effectiveness study. Cancer Nursing, 39, 169-180.

  • Kershaw, T., Ellis, K., Yoon, H., Schafenacker, A., Katapodi, M. & Northouse, L.L. (2015). The interdependence of advanced cancer patients and their family caregivers' mental health, physical health, and self-efficacy over time. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 49, 901-911.

  • Martinez, K., Friese, C., Kershaw, T., Given, C.W. Fendrich, A.M. & Northouse, L.L. (2015). Effect of a nurse-led psycho-educational intervention on healthcare resource utilization among adults with cancer. Oncology Nursing Forum, 42. DOI: 10.1188/15. ONF. E310-E318

  • Northouse, L.L., Schafenacker, A., Barr, K., Yoon, H., Brittain, K., Song, L., Ronis, D. &An, L. (2014). A tailored web-based psycho-educational intervention for cancer patients and their family caregivers. Cancer Nursing, 37, 321-330.

  • Northouse, L.L., Mood, D., Schafenacker, A., Kalemkerian, G., Zalupski, M., LoRusso, P., et al. (2013). Randomized clinical trial of a brief and extensive dyadic intervention for advanced cancer patients and their family caregivers. Psycho-Oncology, 22, 555-563

  • Northouse, L. L., Katapodi, M., Song, L., Zhang, L., Mood, D.W. (2010). Interventions with family caregivers of cancer patients: Meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials. Ca: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, 60(5): 317-39.

  • Sanda, M.G., Dunn, R.L., Michalski, J., Sandler, H.M., Northouse, L.L., Hembroff, L., Lin, X., Greenfield, T.K., Litwin, M.S., Saigal, C.S., Mahadevan, A., Klein, E., Kibel, A., Pisters, L.L., Kuban, D., Kaplan, I., Wood, D., Ciezki, J., Shah, N., Wei, J.T. (2008) Quality of life and satisfaction with outcome among prostate-cancer survivors. N Engl J Med 358, 1250-61.

  • Kershaw, T., Mood, D., W., Newth, G., Ronis, D.L., Sanda, M.G., Vaishampayan, U., & Northouse, L.L. (2008). Longitudinal analysis of a model to predict quality of life in prostate cancer patients and their spouses. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 36, 117-128.

  • Northouse, L.L., Mood, D.W., Schafenacker, A., Montie, J.E., Sandler, H.M., Forman, J.D., Hussain, M., Pienta, K.J., Smith, D.C., Kershaw, T. (2007) Randomized clinical trial of a family intervention for prostate cancer patients and their spouses. Cancer, 110, 2809-2818.

  • Northouse, L.L., Mood, D.W., Montie, J.E., Sandler, H.M., Forman, J.D., Hussain, M., Pienta, K.J., Smith, D.C., Sanda, M.G., Kershaw, T. (2007) Living with prostate cancer: Patients' and spouses' psychosocial status and quality of life. J Clin Onc, 25, 4171-4177.

  • Northouse, L., Kershaw, T., Mood, D., & Schafenacker, A. (2005). Effects of a family intervention on the quality of life of women with recurrent breast cancer and their family caregivers. Psycho-Oncology, 14, 478-491.

Download CV