There are five CECCRs established by this initiative:

  • Institute for Health Research's Cancer Communication Research Center, Kaiser Permanente Colorado (CCRC)

University of Michigan

The University of Michigan CECCR (Center for Health Communications Research) site specializes in tailoring. "Tailoring is any combination of information or change strategies intended to reach one specific person, based on characteristics that are unique to that person, related to the outcome of interest, and have been derived from an individual assessment."

The Michigan Center for Health Communications Research involves four primary research sites and networks, and collaborations with 34 research investigators from 13 institutions.

The purpose of the Michigan Center is to develop an efficient, theory-driven model for generating tailored health behavior interventions that can be used across health behaviors and sociodemographic populations. The research conducted by the Center aims to advance the evidence base, methodologies, technologies and conceptual frameworks relevant to developing and implementing tailored health communication interventions.

The overarching aims of Michigan's CECCR2 are to:

  • extend our tailoring research beyond the prevention area to the broader cancer care continuum, including early detection, treatment, and long-term survival;
  • extend our tailoring research to new clinical and post-treatment settings;
  • deepen our understanding of the key psychosocial and communications components identified in CECCR1, including motivation, ethnic identity, risk perception, and cognitive processing;
  • explore methods of tailoring to patient preferences for shared decision making;
  • develop new social and cognitive neuroscience strategies for identifying immediate impact and mechanisms of health communications messages;
  • develop new interdisciplinary collaborations with scientists and research institutions;
  • train a new generation of health communications scientists and practitioners; and
  • disseminate both the scientific and practical results of our research efforts.

Woven through CECCR2 research are crosscutting interests related to:

  • tailoring and relevant communications channels;
  • reaching underserved populations through more relevant and easier-to-process content;
  • physiological mechanisms of communication effect; and
  • methodological issues of design, data collection, and measurement.

University of Pennsylvania

Penn's CECCR2 expands the CECCR1 focus on the role of public information in cancer-related decisions: its major theme is the interactions of public communication and clinical services as they both affect cancer-related outcomes. CECCR2 includes three major projects:

  • Project 1 builds on our cohort of 2010 breast, prostate, and colon cancer patients, adding Medicare claims information and a follow-up survey to assess the influences on the health outcomes of patient-clinician communication up to three years post-diagnosis.
  • Project 2 will undertake an experiment with 200 chronic smokers studying the effects of advertisements designed to drive smokers to smoking cessation (and to cessation programs). Its major question is whether the all-too-common inclusion of smoking cues in those ads creates smoking urges that work against their success.
  • Project 3 focuses on the development of theory-based messages to encourage eligible people to ask their physicians for colorectal screening, and, once scheduled, to follow through and get the scheduled test. Based on the integrative Model, the project has four phases:

>an elicitation study,
>a 2000 person survey,
>four message experiments with online samples, and
>a full field experiment with patients in the Penn Health System.


  • The Message Design Core, a rapid and efficient message testing lab which brings cutting edge theory and methods to message development.
  • The Training and Development Cores will be crucial to the Center's success, supporting young investigators, post-docs and doctoral students in substantial numbers as they build careers in cancer communication.
  • A Translation to Practice Core linked to the Abramson Cancer Center magnifies opportunities for results to be adopted.

Washington University in St. Louis

Washington U's CECCR1 research advanced the cancer communication science by identifying effective strategies for increasing the reach and relevance of cancer information for low-income African American populations. CECCR2 explores ways to maximize the population benefit of such science by testing disparity-reducing interventions in large-scale studies conducted in real world settings within existing cancer control systems, thus enhancing the potential for dissemination.

There are three studies included in the current scope of CECCR2:

  • Study 1 is the first cancer communication research partnership with United Way 2-1-1, the nation's largest information and referral system reaching tens of millions of Americans in poverty every year. The study connects 2-1-1 callers with needed clinical and preventive cancer services available for free in their community, and tests the effects of cancer control navigators and tailored communication in increasing the use of these services.
  • Study 2 builds on our highly successful Ozioma News Service for Black newspapers, which we have demonstrated increases the amount and quality of cancer coverage, and affects readers' cancer information seeking and preventive behaviors. In this extension, we partner with five divisions of the American Cancer Society (ACS) - covering 14 states and 55% of the US Black population - to test our proven intervention against an enhanced version in which local ACS staff supplement Ozioma's cancer news releases with community specific information.
  • Study 3 evaluates effects of a new touch-screen, interactive cancer communication tool among African American women being treated for breast cancer at the NCI-designated Siteman Cancer Center. The tool provides a searchable library of hundreds of videotaped stories on coping, social support and relationships, told be other local African American breast cancer survivors. Effects on quality of life and adherence to follow-up care will be evaluated, compared to a usual care control group of breast cancer patients.


Shared resources in Communication, Research Methods and Dissemination will support these studies, and Career Development and Developmental Research programs will help our center develop new ideas and investigators. Research from this CECCR will advance cancer communication science and help eliminate cancer health disparities.

University of Wisconsin

The purpose of the Center is to reduce the burden of cancer for those who suffer unnecessarily for lack of support or information. The Center is a partnership among:

  • The University of Wisconsin
  • The University of North Carolina
  • The National Black Leadership Initiative on Cancer - Midwest
  • Kaiser Permanente Northwest
  • MD Anderson

This Center's focus on CHESS (a computer program designed to provide support and information to cancer patients and families) describes three large research projects:

  1. "Effectiveness" demonstrates how CHESS works in a real world health setting by yielding new data on women's use of CHESS, whether CHESS helps women feel better informed and less anxious, and whether CHESS reduces health care costs.
  2. "Prolonging Life" validates an earlier test finding that CHESS helped lung cancer patients live longer, and
  3. "Survivorship" makes CHESS accessible anywhere through cell phones and tests whether CHESS can prevent the return of colon cancer by helping people lead more active lives.

The three randomized control trials (Effectiveness, Prolonging Life, and Survivorship), and the development projects will affect the following:

  • Reach, by
    >Serving low literacy populations with audio and video rather than text;
    >Expanding ranges of patients served from pre-diagnosis through dignified death or optimal survival
    >Move ICCS research to colon cancer and activity enhancement; and
  • Efficacy and Effectiveness, by
    >Testing whether CHESS has the same results in the "effectiveness" context as found in the efficacy context;
    >Improving outcomes by testing the efficacy of small devices tather than laptop computers and by enhancing CHESS' collaborative nature by using wikis and other co-creation technologies
    >Furthering understanding of communication science via Self Determination Theory, and examining the impact of ICCS beyond psychosocial outcomes to new behavioral clinical outcomes; and
  • Adoption, Implementation and Maintenance, by
    >Examining acceptance and feasibility of using ICCS in a large HMO, testing the representativeness of the adopters of ICCS and the extent to which implementation follows intent; and
    >Gathering data on how the ICCS can be fully integrated into the organization to build the business and clinical cases for adoption.

The projects translate research into real world applications, advance the technology of ICCS and knowledge of outcomes and mechanisms of effects; it will also enhance the theory base around which such systems can be development and tested. The Center is working to improve personalized patient and family support, address survivorship needs, have real world dissemination, enable efficient health care utilization, and improve QOL across the cancer continuum.