Center for Psychiatry and Behavioral Health

WellsDiGregorioSharlaAssistant Professor of Psychiatry, Psychology, & Internal Medicine
Clinical Psychologist, Psychosocial Oncology
Assistant Professor-Clinical, Psychiatry
Assistant Professor-Clinical, Internal Medicine
Assistant Professor, Psychology

College of Medicine
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health

105c Harding Hospital
1670 Upham Drive
Columbus, OH 43210
Phone: 614-293-8898

Practice location:
360 Martha Morehouse Tower
2050 Kenny Road
Columbus, ohio 43221
Phone: 614-293-2957
Email: Sharla.Wells@osumc.edu

Background: Dr. Wells-Di Gregorio’s is a clinical psychologist specializing in outpatient psychosocial oncology and palliative medicine whose research focuses broadly on symptom management and communication for patients and families living with advanced cancer.  In order to address patients most essential needs, cancer centers need a brief but comprehensive strategy to identify these needs.  Our primary goal is to improve methods for screening oncology-related physical symptoms as well as emotional, practical, cognitive, and spiritual needs.  In addition, most published psychological interventions focus on patients with early stage disease.  Patients with advanced disease often have more frequent and distressing symptoms and problems and are often less able to participate in multiple-session, time-intensive interventions.  Our second goal is to translate what is known about effective interventions for symptoms such as anxiety, insomnia, depression, fatigue, and pain in the general population into interventions that are accessible and effective for patients with significant illness, limited energy, and multiple appointments.  This includes training oncology providers to enhance symptom management, communication, and decision-making, particularly for patients at the end of life.  Our final goal is to better understand the mechanisms of symptom clustering for patients with advanced cancer.  As such we are investigating the role of pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory cytokines as well as endocrine pathways (e.g., cortisol, epinephrine, norepinephrine) in a specific cluster of symptoms – anxiety-insomnia-depression-fatigue-pain.

Research/Clinical Interests:

  • Comprehensive cancer need (distress) screening and management
  • Psychological/symptom management interventions for patients living with advanced cancer (e.g., insomnia, anxiety depression, pain, fatigue)
  • Development of provider interventions to improve patient and family communication and decision-making at the end of life
  • Neuroimmunologic mechanisms of symptom clusters

Research Techniques: Psychological measurement, psychological and educational interventions, actigraphy, ecologic momentary assessment, immunoassay, endocrine assay

Current Research: We have recently completed a clinical trial of a cognitive-behavioral and acceptance and commitment therapy intervention to reduce a symptom cluster common in advanced cancer. This three-session, in-person and DVD-based intervention was designed for patients with significant illness who may be unable to attend more time-intensive interventions. We have found that this intervention effectively reduces insomnia, worry, uncertainty, depression, and fatigue interference. The next phase of this trial involves translation to a mobile application  and telephone-based intervention and analysis of our neuroendocrine and actigraphy data. We have published a validation study of the James Supportive Care Screening (Wells-Di Gregorio, et al., 2013), a measure that will be implemented throughout the James Cancer Hospital to assess and triage patients to supportive care services based on their most distressing symptoms and psychosocial needs.  In terms of provider training, we have also recently published a manuscript outlining a unique communication skills training curriculum for pulmonary and critical care fellows to conduct more effective family meetings in the ICU setting (McCallister, Gustin, Wells-Di Gregorio, Way, & Mastronarde, 2015).  Fellows in the intervention group demonstrated significantly improved communication skills compared to controls as indicated by blinded professional raters and self-rating. Fellows in the intervention group also showed significantly improved communication self-confidence scores upon completion of the curriculum.

Active Funding:
Lance Armstrong Foundation Survivorship Center for Excellence
American Cancer Society Institutional Seed Grant
Tzagournis Medical Research Endowment Fund/p>

Selected Publications:
McCallister, J.W., Gustin, J.L., Wells-Di Gregorio, S.M., Way, D.P., & Mastronarde, J.G. (2015).  Communication skills training curriculum for pulmonary and critical care fellows. Annals of the American Thoracic Society, 12, 520-525.

Wells-Di Gregorio, S.M., Porensky, E., Minotti, M., Brown, S., Snapp, J., Taylor, R., Adolph, M., Everett, S., Lowther, K., Callahan, K., Streva, D., Heinke, V., Leno, D., Flower, C., McVey, A., & Andersen, B. (2013). The James Supportive Care Screening:  Integrating science and practice to meet the NCCN guidelines for distress management at a Comprehensive Cancer Center.  Psycho-Oncology, 22(9), 2001-2008.

Probst, D.R., Wells-Di Gregorio, S.M., &Marks, D. (2013).Suffering compounded:  The relationship between abuse history and distress in five palliative care domains.  Journal of Palliative Medicine, 16(10), 1242-1248.

Wells-Di Gregorio, S.M., Carpenter, K.M., Dorfman, C.S., Yang, H., Simonelli, L., & Carson, W. (2012).  Impact of breast cancer recurrence and cancer-related stress on spouse health and immunity. Brain, Behavior, & Immunity, 26, 228-233.

Taylor, R.M., Gustin, J.L., &Wells-Di Gregorio, S.M. (2010).  Improving Do-Not-Resuscitate discussions: A framework for physicians.  Journal of Supportive Oncology, 81), 42-44.
Wells-Di Gregorio, S.M. (2008).  Family End of Life Decision-Making.  In J. Werth & D. Blevins (Eds). Decision-Making Near the End of Life:  Recent Developments and Future Directions. Routledge Publishing.

Shelby, R.A., Crespin, T.R., Wells-Di Gregorio, S.M., Lamdan, R.M., Siegel, J.E., &Taylor, K.L. (2008)  Optimism, social support, and adjustment in African-American women with breast cancer.  Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 31, 433-444.

Andersen, B.L., Shapiro, C.L., Farrar, W.B., Crespin, T., &Wells-Di Gregorio, S.M. (2005).  Psychological responses to cancer recurrence:  A controlled prospective study.  Cancer, 104(7), 1540-1547.

Golden-Kreutz, D.G., Thornton, L., Wells-Di Gregorio, S.M., Frierson, G., Jim, H., Carpenter, K., Shelby, R., & Andersen, B.L. (2005).  Traumatic stress, perceived global stress, and life events:  Prospectively predicting quality of life in breast cancer patients.  Health Psychology, 24(3), 288-296.

PubMed articles

Staff/Lab Members:
Lab Coordinators (present): Alissa Banyasz

Lab Coordinators (past): Alexandra Zaleta, Danielle Probst, Emily Porensky, Donald Marks

Research Assistants (present): Samantha Donermeyer,  Patricia McCambridge, Allison Sigler

Collaborators:
William Carson, MD
Uly Magalang, MD
Joseph DeCola, Ph.D.
Don Marks, Ph.D.
Jillian Gustin, MD
Lauren Goodman, MD

Education:
1993 B.A. (psychology), Miami University, Oxford, Ohio
1999 Ph.D., (clinical psychology), Northwestern University Medical School, Chicago, Illinois

Postgraduate Education/Training:
1998-99 Clinical Psychology Internship, UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute, Los Angeles, California
1999 Postdoctoral Summer Fellowship, Psychodiagnostic and Neuropsychological Assessment, UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute, Los Angeles, California
1999-2003 Postdoctoral Fellowship, Biobehavioral Oncology and Behavioral Medicine, Department of Psychology, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio

Editorial Activities:
1999 American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology
2000 - 2002 Health Psychology
2001 Women's Health Conference, Washington DC
2001 - present Journal of Consulting & Clinical Psychology
2002 Behavior Therapy
2003 - present Quality of Life Research
2007 - present Cancer
2008 - present Death Studies
2011 - present Psychoneuroendocrinology
2015-present Journal of Palliative Medicine

Certifications and Licenses: 2002 - present Ohio Board of Psychology – Clinical Psychologist OH#5895

Society/Memberships:
American Psychosocial Oncology Society
American Academy of Hospice & Palliative Medicine
Ohio Pain Initiative

Honors/News:
1993 Phi Beta Kappa.
1993 Cincinnati Psychological Association Award for Outstanding Service. Cincinnati Psychological Association.
1993 - 1996 Northwestern University Graduate School University Scholar. Northwestern University Graduate School.
1996 American Psychological Association Dissertation Award. American Psychological Association.
1997 1st Place, Mid-American Congress on Aging Graduate Student Paper Competition. Mid-American Congress on Aging.
2010 - 2009 Advocacy Honors, NCI Advocating for Clinical Excellence (ACE) Project. National Cancer Institute. Transdisciplinary Palliative Care Education Project (10/300 awarded)
2010 American Academy of Hospice & Palliative Medicine (AAHPM) Katherine Foley Research Scholar.
2010 American Academy of Hospice & Palliative Medicine Annual Paper Award (AAHPM).
2010 American Academy of Hospice & Palliative Medicine 1st Place Poster Award (AAHPM).
2012 Clinical Scientist Training Initiative Grant Award, Society for a Science of Clinical Psychology Award

Academic services:
2005-present Director, Psychosocial Oncology Research Program
2005-2012 Ethics Committee, The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center
2007-2012 Co-Facilitator, Pathways Grief Support Group, OSU Medical Center
2008-present Director, Psychosocial Oncology Fellowship
2010-2013 Director, Division of Health Psychology, Department of Psychiatry
2011-2013 Chair, Ohio Psychological Association Professional Practice Committee
2011-2013 Board Member, Ohio Psychological Association
2014- present American Psychosocial Oncology Society Professional Development Committee
2015 Board Member, Ohio Pain Initiative

Teaching & Seminars:
JamesCare for Life Patient Education
Communications Seminar, Hospice & Palliative Medicine Fellowship
Clinical Supervisor, Psychosocial Domain, Hospice & Palliative Medicine Fellowship
Psychosocial & Chemical Dependence Seminar, Hospice & Palliative Medicine Fellowship
Psychosocial Oncology & Palliative Medicine, Med I Program
Independent Study – Psychosocial Oncology Research, OSU Department of Psychology
Guest Lecturer, Clinical Psychology Graduate Program, OSU Department of Psychology

Clinical Services Clinical Psychologist, Outpatient Psychosocial Oncology & Palliative Medicine

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