Associate Professor, Division of Public Health Sciences
Department of Surgery
Dr. James is a social psychologist with a master of public health degree in health promotion/health education. Her research focuses on cancer prevention and control, health disparities and community-based research. Her program of research examines patient and community perceptions of health and healthcare, and how we can intervene to promote health and help people live healthy lives. Her work focuses heavily on populations traditionally underserved by healthcare institutions and aims to reduce disparities in cancer burden, particularly those disparities associated with socioeconomics or uninsurance. A strong guiding factor in Dr. James’ work is the need to engage community members in research that affects them. She is active in the Siteman Cancer Center’s Program for the Elimination of Cancer Disparities and leads their Colon Cancer Community Partnership.
Her work often involves qualitative research or “mixed methods” to better understand issues from patient or community member perspectives, followed by interventions that can be successful and sustainable in community and clinical settings. Dr. James has received funding from the American Cancer Society and the National Institutes of Health for her work.
Dr. James is also active in training the next generation of researchers, public health practitioners, and clinician-scientists. She teaches Applied Qualitative Methods for Clinical and Health Research and Ethics in Clinical Research. Dr. James also teaches Public and Community Health Block in the first-year medical school curriculum's "Practice of Medicine." She leads the postdoctoral training efforts of the Division of Public Health Sciences
Dr. James welcomes inquiries from medical students and graduate students looking for research or practicum experiences.
Saffiyah Muhammad, MPH
Jean Hunleth, PhD, MPH
Natasan McCray, MHA
Meera Muthukrishnan, MPH
Current and Recent Projects/Grants
1. Addressing Rural Cancer Health Disparities: An SCC-SIUSM Partnership. Low-income rural communities experience significant cancer health disparities, including lower screening rates, increased incidence, later stage at detection, poorer survival, and higher mortality. The Southern Illinois University School of Medicine (SIUSM) and its Simmons Cancer Institute serve much of the central rural, southern rural, and Delta regions of Illinois. These rural communities have higher poverty rates and are medically underserved with disparately high cancer burden. SIUSM has established a partnership with the NCI-designated Alvin J. Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine, and Siteman's Prevention and Control Program.
2. Effects of Insurance on Medication Adherence for HIV Prevention. Pre-exposure Prophylaxis for HIV (PrEP) is an intensive strategy for HIV prevention among high-risk individuals. It is over 92% effective, and real world implementation needs to be studied. PrEP implementation in a Medicaid non-expansion state has not been evaluated in the Midwest. This team will examine the insurance and cost variables associated with PrEP care and medication adherence at Washington University’s Infectious Disease Clinic’s PrEP Program, and then potentially expand portions of this project to PrEP project site partners in in Providence, Rhode Island and Jackson, Mississippi. The investigators will study the correlation of medication adherence and insurance status, and also conduct cost studies related to PrEP use and make inferences about barriers related to insurance status when looking PrEP care across three sites.
3. Evaluation of Social Apps for HIV Prevention Research Recruitment among Men Who Have Sex with Men in St. Louis. Young adult minority men who have sex with men (MSM) are one of the highest risk groups most likely to get new HIV infections in St. Louis. This population has also not adequately been engaged in HIV prevention research and, consequently, interventions. The project team will use social network analysis to determine ad placement for HIV prevention research on social apps. The study will include a survey component to solicit direct feedback about the advertising from users. Based on data gathered regarding high risk venues, affiliation networks using social network analysis will be generated in order to create a more accurate picture of effective study recruitment methods among minority MSM.
4. Systems-Intervention for Colorectal Cancer Screening (National Cancer Institute, NCI). This randomized controlled trial is part of our Community Networks Program funding (PECaD). This study is designed as a practical clinical trial, using community-based participatory research methods. We will work with health centers and local providers to identify potential systems-based interventions. Health centers randomized to the intervention will then have access to a menu of intervention strategies, and will receive assistance implementing their selected strategies. Control health centers will receive access to the intervention after the end of data collection. The main outcome is rate of CRC screening.
5. Photovoice to Increase Colorectal Cancer Awareness (NCI). This project uses Photovoice methods and participatory research to engage community members in a study about facilitators and barriers to colon cancer screening, through the use of group and individual sessions and participant photography. Participants are given cameras and develop messages and ‘posters’ with messages to raise awareness of colon cancer and screening.