Rita Musanti, PhD, ANP-BC, AOCNP
RBHS Endowed Chair of Oncology Nursing
Division of Nursing Science
View Curriculum Vitae
Dr. Rita Musanti is a respected expert in oncology nursing, with an extensive background in oncology research focused on enhancing care and quality of life for cancer survivors. She draws on this experience and expertise as an Assistant Professor, and as the Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences Endowed Professor of Oncology, at the Rutgers University School of Nursing where she has been a faculty member since 2013.
Some of Dr. Musanti’s research is thus aimed at developing programs and support systems that increase the likelihood the survivors will adopt a physically active lifestyle. This research includes using a combination of new technology, such as activity monitors, and the support of a ‘fitness’ team to assist the survivor in establishing a physically active lifestyle. The current exercise program evolved over the years from her initial cancer exercise programing, The Wellness Workout, which has been adopted and adapted for use by regional community cancer support groups.
In response to current trends in cancer lifestyle research, Dr. Musanti is investigating the genetic link between cancer treatment and physical symptoms such as fatigue, a symptom which decreases with proper physical activity. Working with researchers from the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey (RCINJ) and the National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR), Dr. Musanti hopes to extend what we know about the gene changes that associated with fatigue. In doing so, we may not only identify those patients at risk of developing debilitating fatigue but we may uncover how physical activity works to reduce this symptom.
A nationally certified adult nurse practitioner (APN), Dr. Musanti has worked for many years providing direct care to oncology patients as an oncology research nurse and APN. She maintains a clinical focus in cancer prevention services at the Rutgers Community Health Center and is a member of CINJ’s Cancer Prevention and Control Research Program.
An active member of the Oncology Nursing Society, Dr. Musanti was a key contributor to a web-based continuing education course for oncology nurses that teaches nurses about exercise in cancer patients so that they can lead the discussion with their patients about the benefits and precautions of exercising when you have been diagnosed with cancer. In addition, as guest editor for the Exercise and Cancer supplement to the Clinical Journal of Oncology Nursing Dr. Musanti facilitated the dissemination of key information about physical activity in cancer care to practicing clinicians.
Dr. Musanti is certified by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) as a Clinical Exercise Physiologist and a ACSM/ACS Certified Cancer Exercise Trainer.
Dr. Musanti earned her BS degree in biology from Glassboro State College, a Nursing Diploma from Saint Joseph’s School of Nursing, her MSN Seton Hall University, and her PhD in Nursing at Rutgers.
Optimizing Wellness: Health Advocacy for an Active Lifestyle During & Beyond a Cancer Diagnosis
PI: Rita Musanti, PhD, APN-BC
Ying-Yu Chao, PhD, RN, GNP-BC
To test an exercise program model, based on evidence-based preferences of cancer survivors, and Self Determination Theory, on outcomes related to motivational evolution over the course of the program. This study uses a model that includes wearable activity monitoring, oncology nurse health advocates and participation in the LIVESTRONG at the YMCA program as part of the exercise intervention.
Funding: Rutgers Research Department Funded 202334 RC-17 Musanti
The Effect of Enacted Support on Physical Activity (PA), Quality of Life (QOL) and Coping in Adult Cancer Patients and Their Caregivers
PI: Rita Musanti, PhD, APN-BC
Frances Munet-Vilaró, PhD, RN
Ying-Yu Chao, PhD, RN, GNP-BC
Susan Caplan, PhD, MSN, APRN-BC
Olga Cortés, PhD, MSc
Mirna McLaughlin-Anderson, DHA, MSN, CCN, OCN
This is a study of the effects of a home-based exercise program for cancer survivors who identify a caregiver/spouse/partner to help them with their exercise program. The study assesses the effect on physical fitness of both the survivor and their partner, and on coping behaviors and quality of life. The participants undergo baseline fitness testing upon which exercise is prescribed (Fitbits and exercise bands are given with a written exercise prescription and visual instructions). Each person’s program includes aerobic, resistance and flexibility routine. This is done for both the survivor and their partner.
They follow their program for 16 weeks, have repeat testing done at 8 and 16 weeks, and have the exercise prescription updated. Surveys are done at beginning and end and include QOL, coping, and stress evaluations.
Open to adult cancer survivors, who have either prostate, breast or colon cancer. Study is being done in USA, Colombia, and Panama.
Funded by: Rutgers Centers for Global Advancement and International Affairs (GAIA Centers)
A Pilot: The Relationship of Gene Expression, Radiation Therapy and Fatigue in Men with Non-Metastatic Prostate Cancer
PI: Rita Musanti, PhD, APN-BC
Rahul R. Parikh, M.D.
Bruce G Haffty, MD
Hatem E. Sabaawy, MD, PhD
Mark Stein, M.D.
Dirk F. Moore, Ph.D
Although many men with non-metastatic prostate cancer (NMPC) successfully complete treatment with radiation therapy (RT) ± androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) up to 30% of men receiving RT alone , and 43% of men receiving ADT  report treatment related fatigue (TRF) that persists greater than one-year post treatment and that negatively impacts quality of life . The etiology of TRF remains unknown, however, there is evidence to suggest that the cause is related to activation of the immune/inflammatory system [4, 5], and/or alterations in metabolic  and neuroendocrine function . ), Using microarray analytical techniques, a genomic signature (gene cluster) has been proposed and warrants validation of the profile and of the statistical method used to derive the gene cluster within the profile. To that end, and to gain additional information about genomic expression in men with and without TRF, we will perform a transcriptome analysis using the Clariom D® array on whole blood from 30 men who are 6 to 24 months beyond their treatment for NMPC. The outcomes of this pilot study will impact fatigue symptom science by generating a genomic biomarker signature that may/may not validate a previous signature, and by generating for the first time data related to functional pathways associated with fatigue through transcriptome analysis.
Funding: Departmental Funding: Rutgers School of Nursing – RBHS Oncology Endowed Chair Funds
An ecological understanding of physical activity patterns of adults living with HIV throughout the lifespan
PI: Allison Webel, PhD, RN
J.Craig Phillips, Joseph Perazzo, Carol Dawson Rose, Carmen Portillo, Rebecca Schnall, Rita Musanti, Elizabeth Sefcik, Mary J Hamilton, Abdus Sattar, Penny Orton, Puangtip Chaiphibalsarisdi, Kimberly B. Adams Tuft
Goal: The purpose of this multi-site observational study is to describe patterns of physical activity, exercise, and physical fitness in adults living with HIV grounded in the ecological model of healthy living across the lifespan.This study uses a cross-sectional design to collect data on demographics, the physical and psychological state of participants, and the environmental context within which they live. The results of this study will inform future studies into physical and mental health supporting interventions in persons living with HIV.
A lifestyle intervention to reduce blood pressure among immigrant Hispanic adults
PI: Karen D’Alonzo, PhD, APNC, FAAN
Co-investigators: Rita Musanti, PhD, APN-BC
Hypertension is not an equal opportunity illness. Approximately one-half of African-American adults have hypertension and it is likely underdiagnosed and undertreated among Hispanics. Using a framework of allostatic load (AL), exposure to chronic acculturation- related stressors may contribute to hypertension among immigrant Hispanics. Among a sample of immigrant Latinos with hypertension, the aims of this study are:
-To pilot test the effectiveness of a promotora-facilitated exercise and stress management intervention to decrease blood pressure and AL
-To identify coping styles associated with hypertension and increased AL
Utilization of Mental Health Services Among Older Chinese Americans
PI: Ying-Yu Chao, PhD, RN, GNP-BC
Jin Young Seo, PhD, RN, WHNP-BC
Rita Musanti, Ph.D., RN, ANP-BC
Chinese-Americans represent the largest ethnic group among the Asian-American population. Older Chinese-Americans suffer from a range of mental health problems and are at high risk for developing mental health diseases. Hence, a mixed-method study design will be employed.
The study will use Andersen’s Healthcare Utilization Model to examine the predictors of the utilization of mental health services among 120 older Chinese-Americans. In addition, 20 semi-structural individual interviews will be conducted to understand the experience of seeking mental health services among older Chinese-Americans with depression.The results may inform early mental health screening, and it could guide the planning, development, and delivery of culturally sensitive intervention for this population.
Research Assistant Team Members:
- Kevin McConnell
- Kelsie Peta
- Nicole Bathan
- Alani Lai
- Musanti, R., Cognetti, S., Chao, Y., Collins, K. (2017) Fitness and quality of life outcomes of
cancer survivor participants in a community exercise program. JADPRO. Under Review.
- Chao, Y., Musanti, R. (2017). The feasibility of an exergaming program in the underserved older African-Americans. Western Journal of Nursing Research. Article first published online: January 8, 2017; https://doi.org/10.1177/0193945916687529
- Musanti, R., Murley, B. (2016). Community-based exercise programs for cancer survivors. Clinical Journal of Oncology Nursing.20(6): S25-S30.
- Musanti, R. (2016). How exercise can benefit patients with cancer. Clinical Journal of Oncology Nursing, 20(6): S2.
- Musanti, R., Downing, M., Forrester, D.A., Fochesto, D., O'Keefe, P. (2015). Staff perceptions of patient visibility systems in acute care settings. Nursing management; 22(2):24-9.