Virginia Commonwealth University

VCU Massey Cancer Center

Consultation services

During consultations, the Patient/Community-Centered Outcomes Core (PC-COC) staff and ad hoc consultants provide information and methodological guidance. For example, if an investigator chooses to incorporate health economic outcomes into a research project, the core will provide information about relevant outcomes, such as cost, medical care utilization and employment, and they will aid with research question/hypothesis development and assist with identification of appropriate measures, data collection methods and/or analytic techniques.

The PC-COC also provides a range of technology services to support investigators, such as access to an online searchable measures database, administration methods for online questionnaires, online intervention techniques and state-of-the-art data collection methods, including video and audio recording of physician-patient consultation interactions.

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A detailed list of methodological guidance provided by the consultation services is listed below. Consultation services will be responsive to the evolving needs of VCU Massey Cancer Center research members, so the list of consultation services below will vary with each protocol.

Qualitative research consultations
Receive assistance in designing innovative qualitative research projects that capture patient outcomes measures through:

  • Identifying the key methods to collect qualitative data; for example, focus groups, individual semi-structured interviews and audio/video-recording of consultations
  • Identifying qualitative analytic approaches; for example, conversational analysis, constant comparative methods and thematic analysis
  • Guiding the coding and quantifying of qualitative data
  • Searching for existing coding systems and guiding the development of novel coding systems
  • Providing ongoing oversight, as needed, in analyzing qualitative data using selected mechanisms
  • Selecting appropriate confirmatory behavioral measurement tools
  • Selecting software to aid qualitative data analysis
  • Developing sampling strategies to ensure adequate recruitment
  • Developing sampling strategies to ensure patient diversity

Qualitative service requests are handled by Richard Brown, Ph.D., who provides methodological guidance and technical expertise in the use of advanced qualitative and multi-methods research.

Quantitative research consultations
Receive assistance in determining and articulating the relevance of patient/community-centered outcomes measurement to the mission of individual research projects by:

  • Identifying key constructs to be included in a research plan
  • Searching for measures from the existing pool of instruments
  • Determining if modifications of existing instruments are needed to accomplish the research objectives
  • Evaluating the psychometric adequacy of selected measures as well as the appropriate mode(s) for data collection
  • Determining if and how information can be extracted from existing administrative sources; for example, claims data for medical care cost, insurance coverage and diagnoses, as well as registries for cancer stage
  • Assisting with data collection instrument development for outcomes where standardized instruments are not available; for example, hours worked and health care utilization
  • Recommending analytic strategies to support the analysis of behavioral and economic outcomes

Quantitative consultation service requests are handled by Levent Dumenci, Ph.D., who provides technical expertise on psychometric issues. Maureen Wilson-Genderson, Ph.D., provides quantitative methodology support. Bassam Dahman, Ph.D., provides expert support for comparative effectiveness, cost effectiveness and health economics research. Dumenci also maintains the PC-COC measures database and helps investigators to identify appropriate measures.

Multi-method research consultations
Receive assistance in determining and articulating the relevance of including patient/community-centered outcomes in multi-method research for individual research projects by:

  • Identifying concordant patient samples for different stages of a multi-method study, i.e., a qualitative stage followed by a quantitative stage            
  • Developing methods to transform qualitative data            
  • Determining reliability and validity of qualitative data            
  • Guiding pilot testing of interventions

Multi-method research service requests that utilize both qualitative and quantitative services are handled by both Dumenci and Brown. They provide coordinated consultation for investigators who plan to conduct sequential multi-methods research incorporating patient/community-centered outcomes; for example, a two-stage study that first generates and analyzes qualitative data, such as cancer consultation audio-recordings to understand patients’ preferences for discussing complex prognostic estimations, and then utilizes the qualitative results to inform the development of interventions to help physicians meet these preferences.