Associate Professor, Division of Public Health Sciences
Department of Surgery
Dr. James is a social psychologist with a master of public health (MPH) degree in health promotion/health education. Her research focuses on cancer prevention and control, health disparities and community-based research. Her program of research examines patient and community perceptions of health and healthcare, and how we can intervene to promote health and help people live healthy lives. Her work focuses heavily on populations traditionally underserved by healthcare institutions and aims to reduce disparities in cancer burden, particularly those disparities associated with socioeconomics or uninsurance. A strong guiding factor in Dr. James’ work is the need to engage community members in research that affects them. She is active in the Siteman Cancer Center’s Program for the Elimination of Cancer Disparities and leads their Colon Cancer Community Partnership.
Her work often involves qualitative research or “mixed methods” to better understand issues from patient or community member perspectives, followed by interventions that can be successful and sustainable in community and clinical settings. Dr. James has received funding from the American Cancer Society and the National Institutes of Health for her work.
Dr. James is also active in training the next generation of researchers, public health practitioners, and clinician-scientists. She teaches Applied Qualitative Methods for Clinical and Health Research and Ethics in Clinical Research. She leads the postdoctoral training efforts of the Division of Public Health Sciences.
Dr. James welcomes inquiries from medical students and graduate students looking for research or practicum experiences.
Matthew Brown, MPH
Jean Hunleth, PhD, MPH
Natasan McCray, MHA
Meera Muthukrishnan, MPH
1. Systems-Intervention for Colorectal Cancer Screening (National Cancer Institute, NCI). This randomized controlled trial is part of our Community Networks Program funding (PECaD). This study is designed as a practical clinical trial, using community-based participatory research methods. We will work with health centers and local providers to identify potential systems-based interventions. Health centers randomized to the intervention will then have access to a menu of intervention strategies, and will receive assistance implementing their selected strategies. Control health centers will receive access to the intervention after the end of data collection. The main outcome is rate of CRC screening.
2. Photovoice to Increase Colorectal Cancer Awareness (NCI). This project uses Photovoice methods and participatory research to engage community members in a study about facilitators and barriers to colon cancer screening, through the use of group and individual sessions and participant photography. Participants are given cameras and develop messages and ‘posters’ with messages to raise awareness of colon cancer and screening.
3. Peer Outreach to Improve Colon Cancer Screening in the Safety-Net (NCI). In this study, participants from a local health center are randomized to either receive targeted educational materials or individual telephone calls from a peer coach. Participants complete a baseline interview and follow-up surveys at 3 months and 6 months. The main outcome that will be assessed is completion of colorectal cancer screening at the 6-month follow-up.
4. Understanding Missed Appointments for Screening and Diagnosis (internal funding). In this small pilot study, patients who missed a scheduled endoscopy appointment were contacted to assess reasons for missing the appointment and assets that would have helped them attend their appointment. Data collection for this study is complete.
5. Perceptions of Colon Cancer Screening Among Low-Income Patients (funded by the American Cancer Society). This Mentored Research Scholar grant was aimed at using mixed-methods to explore patient perceptions of and barriers to colorectal cancer screening among patients served by “Safety-net” health centers. Phase I of this project involved focus groups and interviews to elucidate patient experiences and concerns. Findings from that qualitative research informed both the Phase II survey and the development of a R21 grant that was submitted to and subsequently funded by the NCI. Phase II of this grant was a longitudinal survey to follow patients for one year, assessing knowledge, attitudes, and use of preventive care to reduce cancer risk. Data collection is complete; analysis is ongoing.