Erin K. Tagai, PhD, MPH

Erin K. Tagai

Assistant Professor, Cancer Prevention and Control

Educational Background

  • Postdoctoral Associate, Cancer Prevention and Control, Fox Chase Cancer Center, Philadelphia, PA, 2016-2021
  • PhD, Behavioral and Community Health, University of Maryland School of Public Health, College Park, MD, 2016
  • MPH, Social and Behavioral Theory with concentration in Women’s Health, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV, 2010
  • BS, Molecular and Cellular Biology, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, 2007


  • American Public Health Association
  • Society of Behavioral Medicine

Honors & Awards

  • T32 Cancer Biology Training Grant Postdoctoral Fellow, Fox Chase Cancer Center, 2017-2018
  • Behavioral Informatics and Technology Special Interest Group Student Award for Significance to the Field of Digital Health, 38th Annual Society of Behavioral Medicine, 2017
  • Han Soo Chae Memorial Research Award, University of Maryland, College Park, MD, 2016
  • Dean’s Scholar Award, University of Maryland, College Park, MD, 2016
  • Glover Dissertation Award, University of Maryland, College Park, MD, 2015
  • Meritorious Student Award and Citation Award, 35th Annual Society of Behavioral Medicine, 2014

Research Interests

  • Development and evaluation of patient-centered mHealth interventions targeting cancer screening, decision making, and coping during survivorship
  • Adapting evidence-based interventions into routine clinic care using implementation science
  • Identifying and addressing social determinants of health associated with patient-reported outcomes

Lab Overview

Our lab uses a transdisciplinary team approach to develop evidence-based interventions to improve patient-reported and clinical outcomes across the cancer continuum. Using an implementation science approach and a health equity lens, our ongoing studies are evaluating mHealth tools to improve patient-provider communication and overcome barriers to care. We are also conducting research to identify social determinants of health associated with patient-reported outcomes and healthcare access to inform the development of patient-centered interventions. Working across cancer contexts (e.g., urology, gynecologic, head and neck) and using both qualitative and quantitative methodologies, our lab uses an iterative approach to developing a strong understanding of the patient experience to create solutions to improve cancer care delivery.

Lab Description

As a health services researcher, I focus on the development and implementation of clinic-based strategies to improve outcomes across the cancer continuum. My lab works collaboratively with oncologists, psychologists, sociologists, computer scientists, and biostatisticians to address three key areas: (a) development and evaluation of patient-centered mHealth interventions, (b) adapting evidence-based interventions into routine clinic care using implementation science, and (c) identifying and addressing social determinants of health associated with patient-reported and clinical outcomes.

Development and evaluation of patient-centered mHealth interventions

Using a transdisciplinary team approach, our lab is currently developing mHealth interventions through the integration of Large Language Models to improve patient-provider communication and patient outcomes (e.g., quality of life, symptom management) among cancer patients. In another project, we are evaluating the modifiable psychosocial factors associated with distress and quality of life among patients on active surveillance. Using our findings, we will develop a web-based intervention to help these patients reduce distress and avoid definitive treatment (e.g., surgery) that is not medically indicated.

Adapting evidence-based interventions into routine clinic care using implementation science

Our lab is working with two multisite teams to adapt evidence-based interventions into routine clinic care using implementation science methodologies. Through intervention adaptation into text message and web-based delivery, we are seeking to improve both recommended follow-up for cancer screening and patient-provider communication for treatment decision making. Our team also integrates implementation science principles through all phases of research to better inform the development and eventual implementation of mHealth interventions.

Identifying and addressing social determinants of health associated with patient-reported and clinical outcomes

Several projects are focused on the identification of social determinants of health (i.e., economic stability, education access and quality, healthcare access and quality, neighborhood and built environment, social and community context) that are significantly associated with patient-reported (e.g., distress) and clinical outcomes (e.g., receipt of recommended screening tests). Currently, we are evaluating social determinants of health in the context of treatment decision making and access to care, comorbidity management among cancer survivors, and financial toxicity among patients with high out-of-pocket costs. Our lab is also investigating methods to reduce the negative impact of social determinants of health that result in poor patient outcomes.

Selected Publications

Swiecki-Sikora, A.L., Lauder, A., Harris, A., Tagai, E.K., Deng, M., Jeronis, S.L., Houck, K.L., Miller, S.M., Hernandez, E. (2023). Attitudes about the Human Papilloma Virus Vaccine amongst patients with and without cervical dysplasia. Journal of Lower Genital Tract Disease. doi: 10.1097/lgt.0000000000000778.

Diefenbach, M.A., Marziliano, A., Tagai, E.K., Pfister, H., Lapitan, E., Hall, S.J., Vira, M., Ibrahim, S., Aibel, K., Kutikov, A., Horwitz, E.M., Miyamoto, C., Reese, A.C., Miller, S.M. (2023). Preference elicitation and treatment decision-making among men diagnosed with prostate cancer: Results from the Healium trial. Journal of Medical Internet Research. doi:10.2196/46552. PMCID: PMC10625066

Tagai, E.K., Mantia-Smaldone G.M., Belfiglio, A., Chu, C.S., Lapitan, E., Santos, H., Hernandez, E., Sarwer, D.B., Miller, S.M. (2023). Perceived importance of weight loss and exercise among endometrial cancer survivors with overweight or obesity: Implications for lifestyle modification interventions. Obesity Science & Practice. doi: 10.1002/osp4.701.

Kohler, R.E., Hemler, J., Wagner, R., Sullivan, B., Macenat, M., Tagai, E.K., Miller, S.M., Wen, K.Y., Ayers, C., Einstein, M.H., Hudson, S.V. (2023). Confusion and anxiety in between abnormal cervical cancer screening results and colposcopy: “The land of the unknown.” Patient Education and Counseling. doi: 10.1016/j.pec.2023.107810. PMCID: PMC10527466

Fu, J., Fu, C., Wang, R.S., Geynisman, D., Ghatalia, P., Lynch, S., Harrison, S.R., Tagai, E.K., Ragin, C. (2023). Current status and future direction to address disparities in diversity, equity, and inclusion in prostate cancer care. Current Oncology Reports. doi: 10.1007/s11912-023-01399-0. PMCID: PMC10068208

Sansoni, M., Tagai, E.K., Wen, K.Y., Xu, J., Hudson, S.V., Belfiglio, A., Hernandez, E., Miller, S.M. (2022). Development of a text message-based counseling intervention for follow-up colposcopy among urban, underserved women. Cancer Causes and Control. doi: 10.1007/s10552-022-01573-y. PMCID: PMC9516784

Tagai, E.K., Miller, S.M., Hudson, S.V., Diefenbach, M., Handorf, E., Bator, A., Marziliano, A., Kutikov, A., Hall, S.J., Vira, M., Schwartz, M., Kim, I., Kim, S. (2021). Improved cancer coping from a web-based intervention for prostate cancer survivors: A randomized controlled trial. Psychooncology, 30(9), 1466-1475. doi: 10.1002/pon.5701. PMCID: PMC9053312

Tagai, E.K., Xu, J., Hudson, S.V., Diefenbach, M., Marziliano, A., Bator, A., Kutikov, A., & Miller, S.M. (2020). Social and medical risk factors associated with supportive needs in the first year following localized prostate cancer treatment. Journal of Cancer Survivorship, 15(1), 110-118. doi: 10.1007/s11764-020-00916-5. PMCID: PMC7872345

Tagai, E.K., Miller, S.M., Belfiglio, A., Xu, J., Wen, K.Y., Hernandez, E. (2020). Persistent barriers to smoking cessation among urban, underserved women: A feasibility study of text message-based counseling. Maternal and Child Health Journal, 24(10), 1308-1317. doi: 10.1007/s10995-020-02963-x. PMCID: PMC7483310

Lynch, S.M., Sorice, K., Tagai, E.K., Handorf, E. (2020). Use of empiric methods to inform prostate cancer health disparities: Comparison of neighborhood-wide association study “hits” in Black and White men. Cancer, 126(9), 1949-1957. doi: 10.1002/cncr.32734. PMCID: PMC7341673

Holt, C.L., Tagai, E.K., Santos, S.L.Z., Scheirer, M.A., Bowie, J., Haider, M., & Slade, J. (2018). Web-based vs. in-person methods for training lay community health advisors to implement health promotion workshops: Participant outcomes from a cluster-randomized trial. Translational Behavioral Medicine, 16(9), 573-582. doi: 10.1093/tbm/iby065. PMCID: PMC7184874

Tagai, E.K., Miller, S.M., Kutikov, A., Diefenbach, M.A., Gor, R.A., Al-Saleem, T., Chen, D.Y.T., Fleszar, S., & Roy, G. (2018). Prostate cancer patients’ understanding of the Gleason scoring system: Implications for shared decision making. Journal of Cancer Education, 34(3), 441-445. doi: 10.1007/s13187-018-1320-1. PMCID: PMC6557691

Tagai, E.K., Scheirer, M.A., Santos, S.L.Z., Haider, M., Bowie, J., Slade, J., Atkinson, N., Whitehead, T., Wang, M.Q., & Holt, C.L. (2017). Assessing capacity of faith-based organizations for health promotion activities. Health Promotion Practice, 19(5), 714-723. doi: 10.1177/1524839917737510. PMCID: PMC5878962

Santos, S.L.Z., Tagai, E.K., Scheirer, M.A., Bowie, J., Haider, M., Slade, J., Wang, M.Q., & Holt, C.L. (2017). Adoption, reach, and implementation of a cancer education intervention in African American churches. Implementation Science, 12(1). doi: 10.1186/s13012-017-0566-z. PMCID: PMC5351199

Additional Publications

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