Professor; Vice Chair
Cancer Prevention and Control
Area of Interest
Jennifer Elston Lafata’s research program seeks to improve cancer care quality via improved clinician and patient decision-making and enhanced patient-physician communication. Most of her research is practice-integrated. She has extensive experience working with delivery organizations to identify quality gaps and their root causes, and to develop, implement and evaluate interventions designed to improve cancer care delivery.
Her current research is exploring and testing how the engagement of patients can facilitate the delivery and receipt of evidence-based cancer screening. This research includes NCI-funded projects that are testing the use of a patient-targeted decision support program embedded within the patient portal to enhance patients’ colorectal cancer screening decision making (R01CA197205), and using outreach, referral and engagement to reduce the burden of colorectal cancer among vulnerable populations in North Carolina (UG3CA233251). She routinely uses electronic health record data, joined with data from patient surveys and other sources, to identify opportunities to improve the delivery of routine cancer screening and care. Illustrative of this, is her current research exploring the multi-level factors associated with both patient and clinician lung cancer screening decision-making processes (R01CA222090 and UM1CA221939).
More recently, her research has identified ways to improve follow-up care for patients with an abnormal chest computed tomography (CT) and gaps in the medication counseling provided to patients prescribed oral antineoplastic medications. She is also working with members of the UNC Health Care Oncology Administration team to develop a population management infrastructure to enable routine monitoring of cancer care across an integrated health system and to support the use of in- and out-reach strategies among cancer patients.
Awards and Honors
- Commonwealth University Outstanding Departmental Teacher Award in Health Sciences Education, Virginia, 2014
- National Institute of Aging (NIA) Predoctoral Traineeship, The University of Michigan, 1989-92
- Foster McGaw Scholarship Award, 1986
- Delta Omega, National Public Health Honor Society, UNC-Chapel Hill, 1985
News and Stories
Text messaging proves effective in communicating about colorectal cancer screening, promoting shared decision-making
A study by UNC researchers has demonstrated that text messaging is an effective and well-received tool to communicate about colorectal cancer screening.
Celebrating nearly 15 centuries of service
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is recognizing 118 UNC Lineberger staff and faculty members who will be celebrating a service milestone this year.
Lafata awarded $750,000 grant to study virtual cancer visits and equity and disparities issues
Jennifer Elston Lafata, PhD, will conduct research in partnership with the Henry Ford Health System in Detroit and in collaboration with community, patient and family advisors.