Center of Excellence in Cancer Communication Research

CECCR II Pilot Projects



A Mixed Methods Study of the Acceptability, Feasibility, Use of a Web-based Toolbox to Increase Physician Recommendation of Colorectal Cancer Screening

PI: Carmen E. Guerra, M.D., M.S.C.E., Co-I: Durado Brooks, M.D., Collaborator: Debbie Kirkland

The dual goals of this mixed-methods pilot study are to determine if a web-based intervention that provides primary care physicians (PCPs) with knowledge and evidence-based resources to increase their recommendation colorectal cancer screening (CRCS) is: 1) acceptable and feasible; and 2) to explore patterns of its use by PCPs. One hundred primary care physicians will be invited to participate in review of the investigational website while their navigational patterns of the website use are tracked by Google(tm) Analytics. All participants will complete a questionnaire to determine website acceptability and feasibility. Ten percents of the participants will also be invited to participate in in-depth interviews to inform investigators how the intervention is used to change PCP CRCS recommendation patterns. The results of this cooperative study will allow the investigators from Penn and from the American Cancer Society (ACS) to refine the intervention and conduct the preliminary work to propose an R01 that will test, in a randomized controlled design, its effectiveness in raising PCP CRCS rates.


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Genetic Message Priming and Enrollment in, and Response to, a Smoking Cessation Program: A Pilot Study

PI: Robbie Schnoll, MD. and Freda Patterson, Ph.D.

The goal of this proposed pilot study is to evaluate the effect of divergent recruitment messages on enrollment in, and response to, a smoking cessation program and to assess potential mediators and moderators of the effects of these messages on enrollment and cessation rates. Hypothesis: Participants randomized to a recruitment message that primes the genetic influence on nicotine dependence will be more likely to enroll in the smoking cessation trial and will be more likely to respond to treatment (i.e., quit smoking), compared to a basic threat recruitment message. Exploratory analyses will be conducted to investigate the role that demographic (age, sex); smoking behavior (nicotine dependence, craving and withdrawal) and psychological variables (mood, depression symptoms) have on the relationship between message priming and enrollment and cessation rate.


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Study Title: Brain response to presence of smoking cues in anti-tobacco PSA

PI: James Loughead, Ph.D.

Some anti-tobacco mass media campaigns using televised anti-tobacco public service announcements (PSAs) have had notable success in changing smoking patterns [1-4]. Others have had no or negative effect on the attitudes toward smoking [5-7], prompting a search for objective predictors of such paradoxical outcomes within the format and content of PSA. The brain pattern of response to audiovisual drug cues has been studied across several drugs of abuse using fMRI, including cocaine, heroin and tobacco [8-10]. A robust finding is an association between the limbic and prefrontal system response to visual drug cues and an urge to use drugs, i.e. craving [11-13]. The cue-induced urge to ingest the substance of addiction even after long periods of abstinence is thought to be the basis of vulnerability to relapse to drugs, tobacco and alcohol [14]. Prior studies have used visual cues (e.g. Photos) however, the effects of such cues within anti-tobacco PSAs has not been tested. A cascade of events beginning with a visual tobacco cue followed by tobacco craving and leading to relapse may explain why some anti-tobacco PSAs are either ineffective or increase intermediate markers of smoking. The goal of this pilot project is to examine the impact of the presence of visual smoking cues in PSAs on brain response and the relationship between brain activation and short-term surrogate measures of smoking behavior. This pilot study, linked to project 2, uses functional neuroimaging to enhance our ability to capture the effects of PSA content on craving by identifying brain systems associated with potential symptom provocation cues.


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