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Community research

As part of our Community Outreach and Engagement activities, the Office of Health Equity and Disparities Research maintains an active portfolio in external research funding form diverse sources. Please follow the links below to learn more about our research teams and active research studies.

The purpose of the Cancer Disparities and Minority Health Research Initiative is to facilitate research collaborations across disciplines with the ultimate goal of improving cancer outcomes for individuals in the Massey Cancer Center catchment area. According to the National Cancer Institute, health disparities are adverse differences between certain population groups in cancer measures, such as: incidence (new cases), prevalence (all existing cases), morbidity(cancer-related health complications), mortality (deaths), survivorship and quality of life after cancer treatment, burden of cancer or related health conditions, screening rates, and stage at diagnosis. People in the populations of focus may be characterized by race, ethnicity, disability, gender and sexual identity, geographic location, income, education and other characteristics. Generally, people who are from low socioeconomic backgrounds (poor, lack health insurance, and are medically underserved with limited or no access to effective health care) often bear a greater burden of disease than the general U.S. population. Your participation in these research studies is important. Everyone needs to be represented! We look forward to hearing from you.

Research teams

Maria D. Thomson, Ph.D.'s lab, Communication, Health Equity & Engagement Research (CHEER) promotes informed and shared decision making through effective communication and measuring and evaluating sociocultural and health disparities that influence patient information needs, knowledge, attitudes and behaviors.

Thomson's CHEER Lab

Active research studies

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VCU and the Cancer Research & Resource Centers invite you to complete a survey about your social network and your experiences as a male cancer survivor in rural Virginia. This survey will ask questions about your connections to people around you. We want to learn more about the community of cancer survivors in your area.

Men who are prostate or colorectal cancer survivors and completed cancer treatment
Resident of Virginia
Age 21+­

The Cancer Research and Resource Center
Lawrenceville: (434) 532-8190
Danville: (434) 791-5205

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We are seeking volunteers for a study exploring factors that impact colorectal cancer screening in rural health clinics. If you are a resident of Virginia and receive care from a Community Health Center, please contact us. You will be asked to complete a 30-35 minute interview and will receive a gift card as compensation for your time.

Resident of Virginia
Patient at a community health center (FQHC)
Age 45+­

Michael Preston, Ph.D.
(804) 628-3972

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Virginia Commonwealth University researchers and collaborators are conducting a study to understand the attitudes, perceptions and practices towards adolescent vaccines with a focus on the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine. We are focusing on select Virginia counties and are inviting parents/primary guardians and health care providers to participate in a short 10-15 minute survey with an option to participate in an interview.

Information gathered in this study will be valuable in guiding development of health services and programs at the local level. Eligible participants who complete the survey will receive a gift card.

Eligibility for Parent Survey
Parent or Primary Guardian of a 9-17-year-old child
Resident of Brunswick, Dinwiddie or Greensville County, Virginia

Eligibility for Provider Survey
Healthcare provider who serves youth and families from Brunswick, Dinwiddie and Greensville counties, Virginia (please see provider letter)

Teya Whitehead
(434) 532-8190

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Where you live can have important influences on the types of risks that are important to you and your health. For example, we know that some areas in Virginia have higher than expected rates of cancer. The information that we gather in this research will allow us to better understand which behaviors and environmental factors may be contributing to high cancer rates in these areas. From this information, we can develop better cancer prevention and control information, programs and services. Participants may include people who receive health care at places other than VCU.

If you decide to participate, you will be asked to answer several questions about your current health including your physical and mental health, your health history, use of health services like cancer screening services and annual checkups. We will also ask about lifestyle behaviors including diet, physical activity, smoking, sleep habits, alcohol and substance use. Finally, we will ask important demographic information including your age, race, income, education, height and weight. You may skip any question that you do not want to answer. Your answers will not have your name or any personally identifying information attached to them. Your survey will be given a unique study ID number. The survey will take about 15-25 minutes to complete.

Resident of Virginia
Between the ages of 18 and 84

(804) 827-0000