Behavioral and Cancer Epidemiology
The behavioral and cancer epidemiology research program in the Division of Epidemiology is focused on examining the behavioral and biological determinants of cancer in the general and underserved populations. This research has three areas of emphasis: (1) assessing the predictors and barriers of colorectal cancer screening and developing interventions to increase screening behavior; (3) determining the role of racial residential segregation, socio-economics, and health disparities in cancer-related outcomes using spatial epidemiology; and (3) developing and evaluating group randomized health promotion intervention among school-aged youth. Active interdisciplinary collaborations with the Departments of Biostatistics, Family Medicine and Population Health, Internal Medicine, Psychology, and Social and Behavioral Health contribute to this effort as well as community-based partnerships. Faculty are scientific research members of Massey Cancer Center.
Select projects in this research area include:
a) An Interactive Preventive Health Record to Increase Colorectal Cancer Screening (Jones): a 5-year National Cancer Institute-funded grant to develop and evaluate the effectiveness of an interactive, web-based tool, MyCRCS, which will be integrated into the electronic medical record to improve patient-centered care. The tool aims to help patients overcome their barriers to colorectal cancer screening by tailoring on, among other items, their preferred screening test and their top test-specific barriers to screening. Co-Investigators include faculty from the Department of Family Medicine and Population Health and the Department of Social and Behavioral Health as well as collaborators at the University of Texas Houston, School of Public Health, Division of Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences (UTH); University Texas Austin, Center for Health Communication at the Moody College of Communication (UTA); Georgetown University, Lombardi Cancer Center, Population Sciences (GU); University of Michigan, School of Public Health, Department of Health Behavior and Education (UM); and Virginia Tech, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Department of Human Nutrition, Foods, and Exercise (VT).
b) Colorectal Cancer Screening With Improved Shared Decision Making (CRCS-WISDM) (Jones): a large, longitudinal community-based intervention that embeds shared decision making in current practice within community-based primary care with broader reaching community-wide features targeted to all community residents in collaboration with Allina Health.
c) Youth tobacco prevention and health promotion (Jones): a study to engage public school administrators and teachers to create, implement, and evaluate a model health promotion curriculum based on a previously implemented school-based intervention program in collaboration with the Department of Psychology's Life Skills Center (funded by the Virginia Foundation for Health Youth).
- Behavioral etiology and advanced methods:
a) Structural equation modeling to investigate the observed and latent variables that impact psychosocial constructs as well as health behaviors. (Jones)
b) Spatial modeling to assess how racial residential segregation and socio-economics influence cancer screening prevalence and other health-related outcomes (Jones): a collaboration with a colleague from Biostatistics.
c) Confusion about the multiple recommended colorectal cancer screening modalities (Jones): an investigation of whether providing multiple screening recommendations creates confusion about the recommendations and impedes adherence to them.
- Measures development and validation:
a) Development and psychometrics of colorectal cancer screening barriers scales (Jones): a collaboration with investigators in the Department of Family Medicine and Population Health and the University of Texas Houston - School of Public Health, Division of Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences to create and determine the validity of comprehensive scales measuring barriers to four commonly recommended colorectal cancer screening modalities.
The goal of this line of inquiry is to impact cancer prevention and control and ultimately reduce cancer morbidity and mortality through novel, applied and translatable research.