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Research Programs

Discipline-based Programs

Outcomes Research

Program Activities

Program Activities

Bringing the power of outcomes assessment to cancer requires a large, multidisciplinary, collaborative team of investigators with expertise in both outcomes research methods and clinical oncology. Many DF/HCC member institutions conduct outcomes research in cancer; only with the creation of the DF/HCC Program in Outcomes Research, however, did this effort achieve the required multidisciplinary expertise.. DF/HCC helps link research groups with a primary emphasis on cancer-related applications together with groups having greater methodologic strength.

Center for Outcomes and Policy Research (COPR)

This multidisciplinary group, established in 1995, is located at the DFCI and includes faculty from:

  • The DFCI Department of Adult Oncology (Earle DFCI,HMS,; Lee DFCI,HMS,; Weeks DFCI,HSPH)
  • The DFCI Department of Pediatric Oncology (Joffe, DFCI,HMS; Wolfe, DFCI,HMS)
  • The DFCI Department of Biostatistics (Gelber DFCI,HSPH)
  • The HSPH Department of Health Policy and Management (Kuntz, HSPH; Weinstein, HSPH)

The primary goals of the COPR are to foster cross-disciplinary health services research in cancer, providing a rich training and mentoring environment for the next generation of outcomes researchers in oncology, and to educate the larger community about the goals, methods, and results of research in the field. Their work is focused primarily on cancer treatment.

MGH Institute for Technology Assessment

Created in 1998 by Outcomes Research Program member Scott Gazelle MGH,HMS, the Institute has a very similar mission and a primary clinical focus on cancer and imaging. Outcomes Research Program members affiliated with this group include Gazelle MGH,HMS; Lamont MGH,HMS and Wittenberg (pending member).

Department of Ambulatory Care and Prevention HMS/Harvard Community Health Plan

This multidisciplinary group includes Outcomes Research Program members (Barton HMS; Nekhlyudov HMS) and has a particular interest in the quality and outcomes of cancer screening.

MGH Outcomes Unit

This group has a long-standing interest in decision-making and outcomes of treatment for prostate disease, including prostate cancer. Outcomes Research Program members affiliated with this group include Talcott MGH,HMS; Barry MGH,HMS; McNaughton; Collins MGH,HMS and Mulley MGH,HMS.

High-quality health services research requires collaboration between clinician investigators and experts in the relevant methodologic areas. Within the DF/HCC, methodologic expertise is concentrated in two groups:

Department of Health Care Policy (HMS). Here, MD and PhD investigators come together to conduct health services research on a variety of conditions, with a special emphasis on development of methods for the analysis of observational and claims data. Faculty with a particular interest in cancer include Outcomes Research Program members Ayanian BWH,HSPH; Cleary HMS; Guadaganoli HMS; Keating BWH,HMS; Landrum HMS and Zaslasky HMS.

Program on the Economic Evaluation of Medical Technology (PEEMT) of the HSPH

This group has particular expertise in the decision sciences and simulation modeling. Several faculty members (Goldie HSPH;  Kuntz HSPH;  Neumann HSPH and Weinstein HSPH) have a long-standing interest in the study of cancer screening, prevention, and treatment and are active members of the Outcomes Research Program.

Focus on Health Disparities

One theme that links all four specific aims is a focus on health disparities. For example, as part of Specific Aim 1, investigation will be conducted into racial, ethnic and cultural disparities in the outcomes of treatment for common cancers and in disease- and treatment-related symptoms. What are the mechanisms that lead to these disparities?

Specific Aim 2 will address whether optimal cancer screening/prevention/treatment strategies differ in high- versus low-resource settings.

A major focus in Specific Aim 3 will be to determine whether racial, ethnic, or socioeconomic disparities exist in the quality of cancer care and, if so, to determine why they occur.
Finally, a major part of Specific Aim 4 will be to identify barriers to effective dissemination of optimal cancer care in different racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups, and to begin to determine how dissemination strategies should be tailored to best reach varied target populations.