Sara J. Knight, PhD
Knight explains, and it’s not always
clear which one best fits their needs.
Her aim is to build measures of patient
goals and values that can help patients
make those difficult decisions. One
such instrument is the Values Insight
and Balance Evaluation scales (VIBEs).
“It’s not intended to give the patient
a treatment choice,” Knight explains.
“Basically, it helps facilitate a discussion
about the choice.” A prostate cancer
patient with a nonaggressive tumor
might let concerns about being there to
take care of his family steer him toward
unnecessarily aggressive treatment,
for example — a finding that would
prompt an explanation by an oncologist
or urologist about the risks that such
treatment can pose.
n A wistful motorcyclist: Knight
used to be an avid long-distance
motorcyclist. “I’ve taken some wonderful
trips on my motorcycle,” she says,
recalling long journeys through the
Passionate health psychologist, cancer researcher and one-time avid motorcyclist.
Rocky Mountains and cross-country to
n Member since: 1986
n What she does: Knight studies
how to help cancer patients make
better decisions about their treatment
options. She is the acting director
of an interdisciplinary program
to improve care for veterans with
complex, comorbid conditions at the
San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical
Center, and a professor at the University
of California, San Francisco. Knight
spent the early part of her career
working as a psychologist in health
settings before deciding she could make
a bigger impact as a researcher. In 1999,
she received a career development
award from the VA and retrained as a
researcher. She now devotes 100 percent
of her time to health services research.
n A passion for health
psychology: Since earning her
doctorate in clinical psychology from
Southern Illinois University in 1985,
Knight has spent her career in medical
centers — an interest she attributes to
her parents’ illnesses. Her mother had
multiple sclerosis, and both parents
had cancer; they died soon after Knight
finished her dissertation.
Cancer patients are often confronted
with multiple treatment options,
the East Coast. Although she still owns
her 1986 BMW, she doesn’t take it out
anymore, feeling that she doesn’t ride
often enough to be safe.
These days, Knight and her husband
— a one-time motorcycle safety
instructor and now a VA psychologist
himself — are more interested in their
pets than their motorcycles. The couple
has three rescued greyhounds and two
cats. “You can’t take a greyhound with
you on a motorcycle,” Knight laughs.
“And three won’t fit in a sidecar!” n
Each month, “Random Sample” profiles
an APA member. You may be next.