Research: Improving What We Know

When most people think of research, they think about scientists in white lab coats huddled over a little dish of cells. But that is only one kind of research, usually called basic science. There are many other kinds of research, too. The Office of Community Outreach is involved in program-oriented research that is more focused on people and their relationship to health information and health care. Fox Chase is also a leader in clinical trials research. This involves studies with people to evaluate new ways to screen for, diagnose, treat and prevent cancer. Clinical trials also study the impact of cancer on a person’s quality of life.

Program-Oriented Research

We are particularly interested in how best to reach people with health care information and how to help them become strong partners in their own health care. We know that the answers might not be the same for all groups of people. A few examples of current or recently completed research projects that the Office of Community Outreach has supported include:

  • Population Health Assessment:

This study was a local data collection project to allow for improved description of our catchment area (the region we serve), new insights into underserved/understudied populations, and (with National Cancer Institute collaboration) development of a novel, multilevel data resource relevant to national/state/local cancer surveillance efforts. A survey was conducted with a 1000 individuals of mixed demographics across Southeast PA and Southern NJ. OCO was instrumental in assisting with development of the data collection instrument, recruitment and consent of participants and development of manuscript(s).

  • NCI U54:

Temple University’s Asian Community Cancer Health Disparities Center is focused on reducing cancer health disparities by increasing knowledge of, access to, and utilization of beneficial biomedical and behavioral procedures. OCO will support the Community Outreach Core which will work to increase knowledge and access to cancer prevention and treatment programs within multi-ethnic and multilingual communities. OCO will focus on Hispanic community outreach; year one will address liver cancer, year two will address colorectal cancer and in year three we will address lung cancer. OCO staff provided technical assistance in the development of the educational module, the data collection instrument and recruitment and consent of participants.

  • Pennsylvania Department of Health (PADOH) LIVE-R Life: Liver Cancer Education: 

This education program will utilize geospatial research findings in collaboration with a FCCC researcher to identify geographic areas (census tracts) that carry the greatest burden of liver cancer, HBV, and HCV. OCO will then take information from the geospatial analysis to target cancer education (focused on the primary and secondary prevention of liver cancers attributed to HBV or HCV) to areas identified as “high-risk”. This approach will enable us to target at risk communities and use our resources efficiently. Our intervention will provide bilingual education about hepatitis, who is at risk, how it is contracted, and how it relates to liver cancer. The complex interactions of risk behaviors, differences in disease rates by race/ethnicity, and the impact of social environment on liver cancer suggests that community-based approaches to identifying high risk areas and high-risk individuals within those areas, is warranted.  The OCO role includes development of the educational intervention and data collection instrument, data entry, participant recruitment, implementation of program and manuscript development.

  • Community Ambassador Training: 

This project tested the impact of a clinical trials education curricula for lay persons. The intended outcome was to increase participants’ knowledge of clinical trials as well as their comfort in engaging other community members in discussion about the importance of considering research participation. Three cohorts of community ambassadors have been trained for a total of 19 community ambassadors. Community ambassadors (CA) have also received continuing education on breast cancer and breast cancer research. The long-term goal is to increase access to available clinical trials.

  • Community Forums:

The Office of Community Outreach planned three community forums in which our goal was to help the community learn more about the role of research in advancing cancer treatment. We worked with trusted members of the community through our partners and community ambassadors to plan and implement these forums. During the forums we shared information about the role of research in cancer, interviewed a clinical trial participant and evaluated the interest and likelihood of participants to join a medical research study.  We also evaluated the impact community ambassadors have on recruitment efforts. This project allowed us to bring researchers into community settings to discuss ongoing research opportunities and to learn more about the community’s concerns and understanding of medical research. 

Clinical Trials Research

Clinical trials are critical to the discovery of effective new methods to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer. In clinical trials, researchers carefully test drugs, medical devices, screening approaches, behavioral modifications and other interventions. Clinical trials can involve both cancer patients and healthy individuals. However, evidence shows that only a small percentage of people participate in clinical trials, and that an even smaller percentage of ethnic and racial minority groups participate in trials. For clinical trial results to be effective, everyone must participate.

The Office of Community Outreach supports Fox Chase’s Be the Breakthrough campaign to increase understanding of why clinical trials are important and to help enrollment into clinical trials by designing and testing new ways to reach out to and educate diverse audiences and our researchers within our institution.

To learn more about clinical trials in general, call 215-214-1515.

See what clinical trials we offer at Fox Chase.