Current Research Avenues

Cancer Care and Communication 

This research program is guided by the following aims:

  1. Capture the health journey of previvors and their families in order to improve healthcare interactions and communication about health
  2. Promote effective communication between patients and their families regarding hereditary cancer risk, prevention, and coping
  3. Advocate for patient-centered communication among patients, families, and healthcare providers
  4.  Partner with individuals and their families affected by hereditary cancer to ensure research translates to clinical care and practice
  5. Develop interventions and tools to improve patient-provider communication, patients’ health experiences, and overall health outcomes

Example Studies: “Investigating Patient-centered Communication in Cancer Care”

Cancer is a word that produces fear like no other disease. This is not surprising as cancer is one of the leading causes of death in the U.S. and worldwide (see American Cancer Society for specific statistics). Whether an individual at high-risk or a patient diagnosed with cancer, communication is key to accurate monitoring and diagnosis, effective treatment, and survivorship. In particular, patient-centered care enhances communication, which produces better health outcomes (i.e., cure, emotional well-being, quality of life, etc.). Thus, by investigating what patient-centered communication looks like in medical encounters between healthcare providers, patients, and family members, then eventually, the word cancer may not be as scary as we think. 

Acute Ambulatory Care and Communication

This research program is guided by the following aims:

1)    Identify and explore how patients and providers define effective communication

2)    Examine how healthcare environments and professionals’ roles impact the communication process

3)    Broaden the understanding of medical communication beyond information exchange to a more holistic, multilayered viewpoint including rapport and contextual issues

4)    Partner with medical professionals and organizations to heighten the translation of research to clinical care and practice

5)    Develop communication interventions to enhance effective communication between patients, families, and healthcare providers to improve health outcomes

Example Studies: “Examining Emergency Department Communication Challenges and Practices in order to Improve Caregiving”

Effective communication is essential to successful medical interactions. While effective communication is a challenge in many healthcare contexts, the mix of multiple professions, pressing resource constraints, problems of uncertainty and information management, and physical space make emergency departments (EDs) particularly important settings for study. In order to understand how such challenges influence patient-provider interactions as well as identify communication practices to improve care, a recent research project examined communication at an ED named EmergiCare—an Academic Medical Center and Level-1 Trauma Center hospital located in the Southwestern US.