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Lung Cancer Stigma: Impact, Reactions and Solutions

Maureen Rigney, MSW, LICSW
Recorded on November 19, 2015

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About the Webinar

Lung cancer stigma affects current, former and never smokers. Statistics vary but most studies agree that over 50% of lung cancer survivors have faced stigmatizing questions and comments and many feel unprepared and ill-equipped to manage such encounters. Family members can also be affected but unfortunately may also be part of the problem. Stigma persists in the medical field as well, with serious ramifications such as physician nihilism. It also impacts society at large, resulting in decades of underfunding for lung cancer research compared to other major cancers. 

This webinar explores the history and development of lung cancer stigma and its effect on those diagnosed. Using real-life examples and survivor testimonies, we will explore how stigma is expressed in the world and how it can influence the ways survivors manage the disease and cope emotionally. Reactions differ but range from increased isolation to loss of hope and delaying or even refusing treatment. 

Social workers play a significant role in helping survivors and their loved ones understand and cope with lung cancer stigma. We will present a multi-focal approach to addressing lung cancer stigma at all levels and provide basic tools for social workers to educate and support survivors, maintain stigma-free areas of practice and work together to change the status quo.       

Learning Objectives

At the end of the presentation, the participant will be able to:

  • Describe the evolution of lung cancer stigma and how it is expressed 
  • Discuss the impact of stigma on survivors and their loved ones
  • Identify strategies to help survivors and their loved ones cope as well as ways to intervene when faced with stigma at work and in society

About the Presenter

Maureen Rigney, MSW, LICSW, has been the Director of Community and Support Services at Lung Cancer Alliance (LCA) for over 10 years. She is responsible for overseeing the services LCA provides to the lung cancer community, including the only toll-free lung cancer-exclusive HelpLine in the country, peer-to-peer telephone support programs and the first lung cancer support and information app, LCA Unite. She also is responsible for LCA’s growing portfolio of unique educational materials, available free of charge to survivors and their loved ones as well as to social workers for distribution. Maureen has long been interested in lung cancer stigma and the effect it has on the lung cancer community. She and LCA have conducted or collaborated in several studies on stigma and offer the only brochure to help people diagnosed with lung cancer understand and start to manage stigma, Coping with Reactions to Your Diagnosis. 
Maureen received her undergraduate degree in Psychology with minors in Sociology and Child Development from South Dakota State University and her MSW at the Jane Addams College of Social Work at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Prior to LCA, Maureen worked in behavioral health, primarily supervising intensive case management programs for people with serious and profound psychiatric disorders. 

Continuing Education Credits

Level - Beginner
Participants will earn 1.5 CE credits upon successful completion of a quiz and a post-webinar evaluation.