Your Toolkit to Design Interventions that Impact Real Lives

Our Affiliates

National Cancer Institute (NCI)

NCI - Division of Cancer Prevention and Population Sciences, Centers of Excellence in Cancer Communication Research (CECCR)

The goal of the CECCR initiative is to catalyze major advances in cancer communication by facilitating growth in knowledge about cancer communication, translating theory and programs into practice, and training health communication scientists focused on cancer communication research. The unique transdisciplinary efforts of the five centers will result in new knowledge and techniques from communicating complex health information to the public with potential for achieving reductions in the US cancer burden.

There are five affiliated Centers for Excellence in Cancer Communication Research (CECCRs):

Institute for Health Research's Cancer Communication Research Center, Kaiser Permanente Colorado (CCRC)

University of Michigan's Center for Health Communication Research (CHCR)

University of Pennsylvania's Effects of Public Information in Cancer (EPIC)

Washington University in St. Louis' Center for Cultural Cancer Communication Research (CCCCR)

University of Wisconsin's Technology Enhancing Cancer Communication Research (TECCR)

Institute for Health Research's Cancer Communication Research Center, Kaiser Permanente Colorado 

The primary goal of the Cancer Communication Research Center [CCRC] is to identify and describe optimal communication structures and processes in organizations that facilitate patient-centered communication in cancer care.

We are pursuing this goal across the cancer continuum - from prevention to early detection, diagnosis, treatment, life after cancer to end of life - and across types - from breast, cervix, colorectal, lung, prostate, and other cancers. We blend this diversity of points in the cancer continuum and types of cancer with a singular focus on clinical settings and the communicative encounters that define the experiences of patients and their families and the team-based and organized responses for producing superior health outcomes.

The Center also strives to employ proven evaluative frameworks and concepts from communication, dissemination, and implementation research to heighten the external validity and diffusion potential of cancer communication interventions in clinical settings. The specific aims are to:

> study the communicative relationships between patients and providers and among healthcare team members involved in cancer care.

> test interventions from improving patient-provider communication in cancer care.

> demonstrate how clinical systems and processes of care can facilitate the replication and spread of evidence-based patient-centered communication practices, programs, and policies in cancer care.

These aims are specifically tied to the two full research projects, two developmental projects, and the research efforts of our two substantive cores. As new projects are funded within the Center, the aims will expand accordingly.

University of Michigan

The University of Michigan CECCR (Center for Health Communications Research) site specializes in tailoring. "Tailoring is any combination of information or change strategies intended to reach one specific person, based on characteristics that are unique to that person, related to the outcome of interest, and have been derived from an individual assessment."

The Michigan Center for Health Communications Research involves four primary research sites and networks, and collaborations with 34 research investigators from 13 institutions.

The purpose of the Michigan Center is to develop an efficient, theory-driven model for generating tailored health behavior interventions that can be used across health behaviors and sociodemographic populations. The research conducted by the Center aims to advance the evidence base, methodologies, technologies and conceptual frameworks relevant to developing and implementing tailored health communication interventions.

The overarching aims of Michigan's CECCR2 are to:

> extend our tailoring research beyond the prevention area to the broader cancer care continuum, including early detection, treatment, and long-term survival;

> extend our tailoring research to new clinical and post-treatment settings;

> deepen our understanding of the key psychosocial and communications components identified in CECCR1, including motivation, ethnic identity, risk perception, and cognitive processing;

> explore methods of tailoring to patient preferences for shared decision making;

> develop new social and cognitive neuroscience strategies for identifying immediate impact and mechanisms of health communications messages;

> develop new interdisciplinary collaborations with scientists and research institutions;

> train a new generation of health communications scientists and practitioners; and

> disseminate both the scientific and practical results of our research efforts.

Woven through CECCR2 research are crosscutting interests related to:

> tailoring and relevant communications channels;

> reaching underserved populations through more relevant and easier-to-process content;

> physiological mechanisms of communication effect; and

> methodological issues of design, data collection, and measurement.

University of Pennsylvania

Penn's CECCR2 expands the CECCR1 focus on the role of public information in cancer-related decisions: its major theme is the interactions of public communication and clinical services as they both affect cancer-related outcomes. CECCR2 includes three major projects:

Project 1 builds on our cohort of 2010 breast, prostate, and colon cancer patients, adding Medicare claims information and a follow-up survey to assess the influences on the health outcomes of patient-clinician communication up to three years post-diagnosis.

Project 2 will undertake an experiment with 200 chronic smokers studying the effects of advertisements designed to drive smokers to smoking cessation (and to cessation programs). Its major question is whether the all-too-common inclusion of smoking cues in those ads creates smoking urges that work against their success.

Project 3 focuses on the development of theory-based messages to encourage eligible people to ask their physicians for colorectal screening, and, once scheduled, to follow through and get the scheduled test. Based on the integrative Model, the project has four phases:

> an elicitation study,

> a 2000 person survey,

> four message experiments with online samples, and

> a full field experiment with patients in the Penn Health System.


The Message Design Core, a rapid and efficient message testing lab which brings cutting edge theory and methods to message development.

The Training and Development Cores will be crucial to the Center's success, supporting young investigators, post-docs and doctoral students in substantial numbers as they build careers in cancer communication.

A Translation to Practice Core linked to the Abramson Cancer Center magnifies opportunities for results to be adopted.

Washington University in St. Louis

Washington University's CECCR1 research advanced the cancer communication science by identifying effective strategies for increasing the reach and relevance of cancer information for low-income African American populations. CECCR2 explores ways to maximize the population benefit of such science by testing disparity-reducing interventions in large-scale studies conducted in real world settings within existing cancer control systems, thus enhancing the potential for dissemination.

There are three studies included in the current scope of CECCR2:

Study 1 is the first cancer communication research partnership with United Way 2-1-1, the nation's largest information and referral system reaching tens of millions of Americans in poverty every year. The study connects 2-1-1 callers with needed clinical and preventive cancer services available for free in their community, and tests the effects of cancer control navigators and tailored communication in increasing the use of these services.

Study 2 builds on our highly successful Ozioma News Service for Black newspapers, which we have demonstrated increases the amount and quality of cancer coverage, and affects readers' cancer information seeking and preventive behaviors. In this extension, we partner with five divisions of the American Cancer Society (ACS) - covering 14 states and 55% of the US Black population - to test our proven intervention against an enhanced version in which local ACS staff supplement Ozioma's cancer news releases with community specific information.

Study 3 evaluates effects of a new touch-screen, interactive cancer communication tool among African American women being treated for breast cancer at the NCI-designated Siteman Cancer Center. The tool provides a searchable library of hundreds of videotaped stories on coping, social support and relationships, told by other local African American breast cancer survivors. Effects on quality of life and adherence to follow-up care will be evaluated, compared to a usual care control group of breast cancer patients.


Shared resources in Communication, Research Methods and Dissemination will support these studies, and Career Development and Developmental Research programs will help our center develop new ideas and investigators. Research from this CECCR will advance cancer communication science and help eliminate cancer health disparities.

University of Wisconsin

The purpose of the Center is to reduce the burden of cancer for those who suffer unnecessarily for lack of support or information. The Center is a partnership among:

The University of Wisconsin

The University of North Carolina

The National Black Leadership Initiative on Cancer - Midwest

Kaiser Permanente Northwest

MD Anderson

This Center's focus on CHESS (a computer program designed to provide support and information to cancer patients and families) describes three large research projects:

1. "Effectiveness" demonstrates how CHESS works in a real world health setting by yielding new data on women's use of CHESS, whether CHESS helps women feel better informed and less anxious, and whether CHESS reduces health care costs.

2. "Prolonging Life" validates an earlier test finding that CHESS helped lung cancer patients live longer, and

3. "Survivorship" makes CHESS accessible anywhere through cell phones and tests whether CHESS can prevent the return of colon cancer by helping people lead more active lives.

The three randomized control trials (Effectiveness, Prolonging Life, and Survivorship), and the development projects will affect the following:

Reach, by

> Serving low literacy populations with audio and video rather than text;

> Expanding ranges of patients served from pre-diagnosis through dignified death or optimal survival;

> Move ICCS research to colon cancer and activity enhancement; and

Efficacy and Effectiveness, by

> Testing whether CHESS has the same results in the "effectiveness" context as found in the efficacy context;

> Improving outcomes by testing the efficacy of small devices tather than laptop computers and by enhancing CHESS' collaborative nature by using wikis and other co-creation technologies;

> Furthering understanding of communication science via Self Determination Theory, and examining the impact of ICCS beyond psychosocial outcomes to new behavioral clinical outcomes; and

Adoption, Implementation and Maintenance, by

> Examining acceptance and feasibility of using ICCS in a large HMO, testing the representativeness of the adopters of ICCS and the extent to which implementation follows intent; and

> Gathering data on how the ICCS can be fully integrated into the organization to build the business and clinical cases for adoption.

The projects translate research into real world applications, advance the technology of ICCS and knowledge of outcomes and mechanisms of effects; it will also enhance the theory base around which such systems can be development and tested. The Center is working to improve personalized patient and family support, address survivorship needs, have real world dissemination, enable efficient health care utilization, and improve QOL across the cancer continuum.