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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

Thomson's CHEER Lab

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.

Active research studies

Image of sneakersWhere 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

Download the flyer here.

Image of telephoneStrength in voices, share your COVID-19 story

COVID-19 has changed so much of our lives, including how we access healthcare. VCU Health Behavior and Policy would like to stay connected and hear your story about how your access to healthcare has been affected by COVID-19. It will only take 3 minutes to share your story and it will help us understand how we can work as a community to take care of each other and improve fair access to resources in our communities. Call (301) 291-5278 and you will be prompted share your story via a recorded voice message.


  • Resident of Virginia
  • 18 years or older


Abby at (804) 628-2640