A photo of Ahna Pai.

Ahna Pai, PhD

  • Pediatric Psychologist, Research, Division of Behavioral Medicine and Clinical Psychology
  • Director, Patient and Family Wellness Center for Cancer and Blood Diseases Institute
  • Professor, UC Department of Pediatrics



The main focus of my research is treatment regimen adherence. I work with patients and families undergoing cancer treatment and transplant services, including pediatric solid organ transplants and hematopoietic stem cell transplants. I am also working to develop interventions to optimize psychological adjustment and treatment adherence in the context of pediatric cancer or transplant.

I became interested in working with these patients and families while seeing how hard it is to maintain a high level of treatment adherence with the multitude of treatment tasks required for comprehensive care management. I find the strength and resilience of the patients and families that I serve astounding. They inspire me in my work and encourage me to find new ways to tackle the monumental challenge of adherence.

Treating children with cancer, or those requiring a transplant, is quite complex and requires many psychological adjustments. Our lab looks at all the factors that can influence treatment adherence, and we then develop interventions that can help to improve it. In addition, we quantify the impact that treatment adherence has on both psychological and medical outcomes.

My goal is to determine how providers and families can partner to maximize treatment adherence so that other patients and their families do not have to deal with the unintended adverse medical outcomes that can result from non-adherence. I want to find ways that families and the medical teams that support their treatment can improve adherence in both children and adolescents. Ultimately, we want to find ways that these patients can learn to manage their treatment regimens effectively, if needed, as they move into adulthood.

BS: Colorado State University, Denver, CO, 1993.

MA: University of Colorado, Denver, CO, 1998.

MS: Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK, 2000.

PhD: Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK, 2003.


Adherence; oncology; hematopoietic stem cell transplant

Services and Specialties

Behavioral Medicine, Brain Tumor


Clinical psychology; psychological factors related to adjustment to hematopoietic stem cell transplant and cancer; adherence and self-management

Research Areas

Clinical Psychology, Adherence and Self-Management

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Screening for Family Psychosocial Risk in Pediatric Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation with the Psychosocial Assessment Tool. Pai, AL H; Swain, AM; Chen, FF; Hwang, W; Vega, G; Carlson, O; Ortiz, FA; Canter, K; Joffe, N; Kolb, EA; et al. Biology of Blood and Marrow Transplantation. 2019; 25:1374-1381.


An Independent Evaluation of the Accuracy and Usability of Electronic Adherence Monitoring Devices. McGrady, ME; Holbein, CE; Smith, AW; Morrison, CF; Hommel, KA; Modi, AC; Pai, AL H; Ramsey, RR. Annals of Internal Medicine. 2018; 169:419-422.


Follow the Yellow Brick Road: Self-management by Adolescents and Young Adults After a Stem Cell Transplant. Morrison, CF; Martsolf, D; Borich, A; Coleman, K; Ramirez, P; Wehrkamp, N; Tehan, R; Woebkenberg, K; Pai, AL H. Cancer Nursing. 2018; 41:347-358.


Longitudinal examination of family efficacy following pediatric stem cell transplant. Tillery, R; Joffe, NE; Mara, CA; Davies, SM; Pai, AL H. Psycho-Oncology: journal of the psychological, social and behavioral dimensions of cancer. 2018; 27:1915-1921.


Cost-Effectiveness Analysis of an Adherence-Promotion Intervention for Children With Leukemia: A Markov Model-Based Simulation. McGrady, ME; Eckman, MH; O'Brien, MM; Pai, AL H. Journal of Pediatric Psychology. 2018; 43:758-768.


A Randomized Trial of a Multicomponent Intervention to Promote Medication Adherence: The Teen Adherence in Kidney Transplant Effectiveness of Intervention Trial (TAKE-IT). Foster, BJ; Pai, AL H; Zelikovsky, N; Amaral, S; Bell, L; Dharnidharka, VR; Hebert, D; Holly, C; Knauper, B; Matsell, D; et al. American Journal of Kidney Diseases. 2018; 72:30-41.


Predicting Health Care Utilization and Charges Using a Risk Score for Poor Adherence in Pediatric Kidney Transplant Recipients. Rich, KL; Modi, AC; Mara, C; Pai, AL H; Varnell, CD; Turnier, L; Huber, J; Hooper, DK. Clinical Practice in Pediatric Psychology. 2018; 6:107-116.


Earlier Pediatric Psychology Consultation Predicts Lower Stem Cell Transplantation Hospital Costs. McGrady, ME; Joffe, NE; Pai, AL H. Journal of Pediatric Psychology. 2018; 43:434-442.


Future orientation in adolescent and young adult cancer survivors and unaffected peers. Beal, SJ; Tillery, R; Wu, YP; Thompson, AN; Pai, A. Psycho-Oncology: journal of the psychological, social and behavioral dimensions of cancer. 2018; 27:1078-1081.

From the Blog

My Child Was Diagnosed With Cancer – Now What?
Blog Cancer and Blood Diseases

My Child Was Diagnosed With Cancer – Now What?

By Ahna Pai, PhD9/19/2018

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