Research Summary

Dr. Tay is a tenure-track Assistant Professor at the College of Nursing, a Program Associate Member at the Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI), a UU Family Caregiving Scholar, and Associate Director of the Utah Caregiving Population Data Science Initiative (Utah C-PopS). Dr. Tay's research focuses on the implications of emerging treatments on caregiving, decision making, palliative care, and end-of-life in the context of the family.


  • PhD, Nursing, University of Utah. Project: Expressing the Unspoken in Shared Decisions: Home Health Families Communicating Openly About End of Life
  • BSN, Nursing, Utah Valley University
  • BS, Behavioral Science, Utah Valley University


Dr. Tay's research leverages population-based oncology cohorts to study end of life, health equity, and spousal stress-related morbidity associated with cancer immunotherapies—novel cancer therapies that have changed the treatment and palliative care landscape for advanced cancer patients. As principal investigator (PI), she leads the Immunotherapy, Palliative, End-of-Life Treatment Utilization and Spousal Outcomes-ImmPETUS cohort (N=31,944 melanoma, lung, breast, colorectal, head and neck, and bladder cancer patients, N=16,051 spouses/partners; Vice President for Research Seed Grant, PI: Tay), a study that supports interdisciplinary collaborations across cancer and social epidemiology, nursing, caregiving and data science, biostatistics and health services research.

Additionally, as Co-PI, Dr. Tay leads the development of the Health INequiTies in ImmunE-related adveRSe Events among Cancer paTients (INTERSECT) Flatiron Health cohort to better understand risks of high intensity health utilization associated with immunotherapies among patient populations impacted by social determinants of health, (Flatiron Health Equity Award, Co-PI; American Cancer Society Intramural Grant Award, PI: Tay).

Even with access to the best healthcare, patients and families impacted by social determinants of health face health inequities affecting survival, quality of life and death. In rural Utah and the surrounding states that are served by HCI, distance to cancer care poses a hardship to patients and families. In collaboration with financial toxicity, intervention development, implementation science, and patient advocacy experts at HCI, the College of Nursing, and the Patient Advocate Foundation, Dr. Tay is leading the development of a rural patient, family, and provider community advisory board to co-develop strategies for a nurse-led, self-advocacy intervention focused on mitigating the impact of indirect sources of financial toxicity among rural communities (Rita and Alex Hillman Foundation Hillman Emergent Innovation: Serious Illness and End of Life Award, PI: Tay).

Books (or Chapters in Books)

Reckrey, J. M., Tay, D. L., Ornstein, K. A. Caregiving over the course of serious illness and at the end of life. In Evidence-Based Practice of Palliative Medicine, 2nd Edition (N. Goldstein, R. S. Morrison, & C. Woodrell, Eds). (In press).


Selected manuscripts:

Denmark Population Registers

1. Mair CA, Thygesen LC, Aldridge M, Tay DL, Ornstein KA. End-of-Life Experiences Among "Kinless" Older Adults: A Nationwide Register-Based Study. J Palliat Med. 2023 Aug;26(8):1056-1063. doi: 10.1089/jpm.2022.0490. Epub 2023 Mar 9. PMID: 36893217; PMCID: PMC10440640.

2. Tay, D. L., Thygesen, L. C., Koslov, E. & Ornstein, K. A. (2022). Serious mental illness exacerbation post-bereavement: A population-based study of partners and adult children. Clinical Epidemiology, 2022(14), 1065-1077. PMID: 36164496 PMCID: PMC9508997.

3. Kristensen, M., Thygesen, L., Tay, D., Kumar, R., Groenvold, M., Aldridge, M., & Ornstein, K. (2021). Reconstructing family networks of decedents: A nationwide register-based study. Palliative Medicine, 35(9):1652-1662. doi: 10.1177/0269216321998602. PMID: 33823696.

Utah Population Database

1. Stephens, C.E., Tay, D., Iacob, E., Hollinghaus, M., Goodwin, R., Kelly, B., Smith, K., Ellington, L., Utz, R., & Ornstein K. Family ties at End-of-Life: Characteristics of Nursing Home Decedents With and Without Family. Palliat Med Rep. 2023 Nov 16;4(1):308-315. doi: 10.1089/pmr.2023.0023. PMID: 38026144; PMCID: PMC10664558.

2. Kelly BC, Hanson HA, Utz RL, Hollingshaus MS, Meeks H, Tay DL, Ellington L, Stephens CE, Ornstein KA, Smith KR. Disparities and determinants of place of death: Insights from the Utah Population Database. Death Stud. 2023 Sep 7:1-13. doi: 10.1080/07481187.2023.2255864. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 37676820.

3. Tay, D. L., Ornstein, K. A., Meeks, H., Utz, R. L., Smith, K. R., Stephens, C., Hashibe, M., & Ellington, L. (2022). Evaluation of family characteristics and multiple hospitalizations at the end of life: Evidence from the Utah Population Database. Journal of Palliative Medicine, 25(3):376-387. doi: 10.1089/jpm.2021.0071. PMID: 34448596; PMCID: PMC8968848.

4. Tay, D., Sheng, X., Meeks, H. D., Guo, J. W., Ornstein, K., Mooney, K., Varghese, T. K., Ellington, L., & Hashibe, M. (2023). Risk of inpatient and emergency department visits among lung cancer patients receiving immunotherapies as first line treatment: Findings from a linked population dataset. Journal of Clinical Oncology, 41(16_suppl), e18817-e18817. Doi: 10.1200/JCO.2023.41.16_suppl.e18817. *Published abstract

Cancer Caregiving

1. Tay DL, Reblin M, Iacob E, Cloyes KG, Thomas Hebdon MC, Reynaga M, Mooney K, Ellington L. Cancer Hospice Caregivers' Self-care Behaviors: The Role of Caregiving Tasks, Burden, and Mental Health. J Hosp Palliat Nurs. 2023 Oct 1;25(5):286-295. doi: 10.1097/NJH.0000000000000962. Epub 2023 Jun 22. PMID: 37347956; PMCID: PMC10524198.

2. Xu J, Hebdon M, Beck A, Cloyes KG, Mooney K, Reblin M, Tay D, Appiah EO, Ellington L. Moderating Effect of Work on Burden and Hospice Family Caregiver Well-Being. J Palliat Med. 2023 Jul;26(7):941-950. doi: 10.1089/jpm.2022.0395. Epub 2023 Feb 17. PMID: 36799950; PMCID: PMC10316524.

3. Cloyes K. G., Thomas Hebdon, M. C., Vega, M., Rosenkranz, S. J., Tay, D., Reblin, M., Mooney, K., & Ellington, L. (2023). Hospice family caregivers’ use of audio diaries and reported patient and caregiver symptoms. Journal of Pain & Symptom Management, 65(3):183-192. doi: 10.1016/j.jpainsymman.2022.11.023. PMID: 36493980 PMCID: PMC9940448.

4. Reblin M, *Iacob E, Tay DL, Li H, Thomas Hebdon MC, Beck A, Donaldson G, Cloyes KG, Ellington L. Family Caregiver Reports of Their Own and Patient Symptoms in Cancer Home Hospice Approaching End-of-Life. Am J Hosp Palliat Care. 2023 May;40(5):508-516. doi: 10.1177/10499091221108119. Epub 2022 Jun 10. PMID: 35689339; PMCID: PMC9734284.*co-first author

5. Tay, D. L., Iacob, E., Reblin, M., Cloyes, K. G., Jones, M., Thomas Hebdon, M. C., Mooney, K., Beck, A. C., & Ellington, L. (2022). What contextual factors account for anxiety and depressed mood in hospice family caregivers? Psycho-Oncology, 31(2):316-325. doi:10.1002/pon.5816. PMID: 34510631; PMCID: PMC8818016.

6. Guo, J., Reblin, M., Tay, D., Ellington, L., Beck, A., & Cloyes, K. (2021). Patterns of stress and support in social support networks of in-home hospice cancer family caregivers. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 38(11):3121-3141. doi: 10.1177/02654075211024743. PMID: 34898795; PMCID: PMC8664070.

7. Tay, D. L., Thompson, C. Jones, M., Gettens, C. Cloyes, K. G., Reblin, M., Thomas Hebdon, M. C., Beck, A. C., Mooney, K., & Ellington, L. (2021). ‘I feel all alone out here’: Analysis of audio diaries of bereaved hospice family caregivers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Journal of Hospice and Palliative Nursing, 23(4), 346-353. doi: 10.1097/NJH.0000000000000763. PMID: 33660671; PMCID: PMC8243771.

8. Lai, D., Cloyes, K. G., Clayton, M., Doyon, K., Reblin, M., Beck, A. C., & Ellington, L. (2018). We’re the eyes and the ears, but we don’t have a voice: Perspectives of hospice aides. Journal of Hospice and Palliative Nursing, 20(1):47-54. doi:10.1097/NJH. 0000000000000407. PMID: 29403331; PMCID: PMC5795615.