Sarah H. Kagan

Gerontological Nurse Class of 2003
Portrait of Sarah H. Kagan

Revising, through clinical research, mentorship, and personal example, standards and practices for delivering health care to older adults suffering from cancer.

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Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
age iconAge
41 at time of award
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About Sarah's Work

Sarah Kagan is a nurse scholar with a commitment to clinical excellence, a passion for original scholarship, a dedication to teaching, and a singular ability to meld all three in the interest of older, frail, and vulnerable cancer patients. In an era when health care systems show ever-increasing signs of strain, characterized by nursing shortages, physician overload, and consumer bewilderment, Kagan surfaces as an energetic and creative countervailing force. In Older Adults Coping with Cancer, she challenges ingrained preconceptions about the treatment of older patients, providing a framework for understanding their heterogeneity of responses to cancer. As practicing nurse, Kagan applies these insights to improve medical delivery and outcomes by recognizing that elderly cancer patients respond to treatment differently (sometimes substantially) from younger patients, not only because of physiologic changes but also because of psychosocial factors that shape their experience of the disease. As researcher, Kagan gives shape to and participates in a variety of collaborative research projects of elderly head and neck cancer patients. As master teacher, she inspires new students to think differently about nursing and to venture beyond the comfortable. Still quite young, Kagan is fast becoming an exemplar of a new generation of nurse and is widely sought for her expertise in clinical gerontology at home and abroad.


Sarah Kagan received an A.B. (1984) from the University of Chicago, a B.S. (1986) from Rush University, and an M.S. (1989) and a Ph.D (1994) from the University of California, San Francisco. She is currently Associate Professor of Gerontological Nursing, Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist, and Fellow at the Institute on Aging at the University of Pennsylvania. Kagan also hold a secondary appointment in the Department of Otorhinolaryngology: Head and Neck Surgery. Kagan is the author of Older Adults Coping with Cancer: Integrating Cancer into a Life Mostly Lived (1997) and was a column editor for the American Journal of Nursing. Kagan is a member of the Gerontological Society of America, the Society of Head and Neck Nurses, and the Oncology Nursing Society.

Recent News

Sarah H. Kagan holds a faculty position at the University of Pennsylvania, where she teaches undergraduate and graduate students, practices in the Living Well Geriatric Oncology Program at Pennsylvania Hospital, and conducts qualitative research in cancer experience for older people. She is a columnist, writing Myths of Aging for Calkins Media, and she co-teaches the MOOC (massive open online course) Growing Old Around the Globe on Coursera. Her writing, teaching, practice, and research are all aimed toward supporting well-being for older people and their families and bettering our aged communities and ageing America.

Updated August 2015

Published on October 5, 2003

Photos of Sarah H. Kagan

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