Virginia Commonwealth University

VCU Massey Cancer Center

Applied research services

The applied research services offered by the Patient/Community-Centered Outcomes Core (PC-COC) are outlined below. This list is not exhaustive, as the resource needs of VCU Massey Cancer Center research members continue to evolve. The services provided by the core will be responsive to changing needs.

Request applied research services

Qualitative services
The PC-COC provides analytic support to investigators who wish to collect qualitative data, including:

  • Identifying appropriate population segments
  • Guiding sample size estimates to achieve requirements of rigorous qualitative methods, such as “theoretical saturation” in the Grounded Theory approach
  • Guiding the development and conduct of qualitative analysis plans
  • Composing relevant sections of protocols, reports, presentations and publications

The PC-COC provides expert data collection services to researchers. These services include the provision of suitable trained and experienced staff to function as:

  • Focus group moderators
  • Patient interviewers
  • Qualitative data coders

The PC-COC provides trained personnel to collect and code qualitative data. These personnel have expertise in qualitative data collection methods such as survey development and administration, focus group moderating and semi-structured interviewing. The PC-COC also provides personnel who are able to code data following existing coding systems or participate in the development and application of novel coding systems. In addition, personnel are trained in methodological issues, including achieving inter- and intra-rater reliability. These personnel are drawn from a pool of postdoctoral trainees and fellows in the Department of Social and Behavioral Health who are trained to a high level through their coursework and in their role as mentored graduate assistants. Mentoring and training activities are performed by three qualitative methodologists with extensive training and experience: Richard Brown, Ph.D., Laura Siminoff, Ph.D., and Maghboeba Mosavel, Ph.D.

Quantitative services
Project development:

  • Providing psychometric and econometric support; for example, determining psychometric adequacy of the selected instruments to assure an acceptable level of measurement precision (reliability) and validity
  • Ensuring the appropriateness of the selected measures for the proposed research design and statistical analyses
  • Conducting statistical power analysis to determine the sample size needed to achieve adequate power to detect significant measurement parameter estimates; for example, item intercepts in a Rasch model and factor loadings in confirmatory factor analysis
  • Creating an analytic data set from different sources throughout the VCU Heath System, such as patient medical records, claims data and encounter data
  • Developing an analysis plan for patient/community-centered outcomes
  • Conducting the analysis of quantitative outcomes

Project analysis:

  • Ensuring the statistical power of measurement parameters during the data collection process and recommending necessary alterations to item content and effect sizes to take into account deviations from the protocol; for example, encountering missing data and reducing the number of repeated measurements
  • Assisting with the development and application of econometric models to aid cost effectiveness and comparative effectiveness research
  • Developing data collection instruments, as appropriate
  • Modifying an existing instrument if it is determined that the instrument is inappropriate for the sample; for example, differential item functioning and low reliability
  • Preparing certain sections of papers and presentations and active involvement in dissemination efforts

Levent Dumenci, Ph.D., and Maureen Wilson-Genderson, Ph.D., provide applied quantitative methodology services. The PC-COC is also staffed by Bassam Dahman, Ph.D., who, in collaboration with other members of the Department of Healthcare Policy and Research, provides a range of applied services that includes secondary analysis of administrative data and a range of econometric support. Dahman also provides assistance in preparing analytical databases from claims and other health care administrative and clinical data. Personnel are drawn from the Department of Healthcare Policy and Research and include students at both the pre-and postdoctoral levels. These students are trained and mentored by Dahman and Cathy Bradley, Ph.D.

Technology services

  • Providing access to an online searchable database of measurement instruments commonly used in patient/community-centered outcomes research
  • Consulting on the use of video/audio recording of cancer consultations to capture objective data
  • Providing technical assistance with the development of online interventions
  • Consulting on novel technologies such as online chat-bots
  • Advising on the utilization of newly developed patient portals as research tools
  • Providing technical support to develop online questionnaires and databases using software such as Redcap and Qualtrics
  • Access to administrative data available through VCU Massey Cancer Center, VCU Health System and the Center for Clinical and Translational Research

Technology services are provided by ad hoc consultants. Consultants work with investigators requiring assistance with state-of-the-art research technologies to facilitate patient-centered outcomes data collection and management.