The research of Carmen Radecki Breitkopf, Ph.D., focuses on understanding and reducing disparities in health that may result from patient-related factors, including sociodemographics, English language proficiency, and cultural beliefs about health and disease.
In particular, Dr. Radecki Breitkopf has studied psychological and behavioral aspects of cancer prevention among minority and vulnerable populations. In addition, she has an interest in studying issues related to decision making surrounding participation in clinical research among groups that are frequently underrepresented in research, such as adolescents, women and minorities.
Dr. Radecki Breitkopf has expertise in the use of a variety of qualitative and quantitative research methods, including semi-structured and structured interviews, focus groups, and survey methodology.
As a psychologist, Dr. Radecki Breitkopf is interested in the development and application of health behavior theories to understand, predict and modify behaviors associated with health promotion and disease prevention. The use of theory-based approaches to examine behavioral alternatives is a common thread in her work spanning cancer prevention, health disparities and research participation.
- How can we use well-established theories of health behavior to develop interventions to reduce disparities in cancer incidence, mortality and palliation? The burden of cervical cancer falls disproportionately on women who are members of racial and ethnic minority groups. Cancer of the uterine cervix is largely preventable through routine screening, follow-up and monitoring of early precursors to cancer if identified, and vaccination against the human papillomavirus (HPV).
Dr. Radecki Breitkopf has conducted a variety of investigations, including a randomized clinical trial, to understand and improve adherence to continued performance of cancer prevention behaviors among women who initiate these behaviors. Her research has identified women at particular risk of nonadherence to follow-up for an abnormal cervical cancer screening test result and for not completing the three-dose HPV vaccine series.
Additionally, Dr. Radecki Breitkopf's research has highlighted the importance of systematically understanding the role of affect, cognition and social/cultural norms in helping women adhere to clinical recommendations and delivering instructions that address these influences on behavior in strategic ways.
In collaboration with other Mayo Clinic Cancer Center investigators, Dr. Radecki Breitkopf is developing projects to understand differences in perceptions and enrollment into hospice among cancer patients, with the goal of enabling all patients facing the end of life to maximally benefit from hospice services.
- How can we increase participation in appropriate clinical trials by vulnerable and minority populations? In this area of research, Dr. Radecki Breitkopf is interested in understanding decision processes that improve as well as impede enrollment in research. Ongoing studies are examining decision making regarding trial participation from a developmental perspective among adolescents and parents and understanding knowledge and attitudes toward research participation among African-American women.
Significance to patient care
Dr. Radecki Breitkopf's research will help inform patient-centered approaches to health care delivery that address social, cultural and psychological influences on behavior and that strive for health equity across diverse populations.