Current Research Interests
In general, I have expertise in the measurement and analysis of Patient-Reported Outcome (PRO) data, and both my applied and methodological research at MSKCC tends to have a strong psychometric flavor. I enjoy finding opportunities to apply modern psychometric techniques in my work, such as item response theory (IRT) models, structural equation models (SEM), and factor analysis.
I currently collaborate extensively with researchers in the MSKCC Female Sexual Medicine and Women’s Health Program (FSMWHP) as well with researchers in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences (PBS). With my FSMWHP collaborators, I work on developing and psychometrically validating methods to accurately measure various aspects of female sexual function and cancer-related dysfunction. With my PBS collaborators, I work on validating psychometric questionnaires measuring beliefs and attitudes about cancer risk, including ensuring that the instruments are measurement invariant across important population subgroups. I also analyze data from population surveys with complex sampling designs, investigating cancer-related beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors in the general population.
I co-chair the MSKCC Biostatistics Protocol Review Committee. I think it is very important to reduce the vast measurement error inherent in way that PROs (e.g., quality of life, psychological functioning, and social functioning) of cancer patients and survivors are currently measured. Improvements can and should be made at every step of the research process. An important step that is often overlooked is the careful formulation of these issues in the research protocol, including the rationale for measuring the PRO in the study, the specific aspects of quality of life (QoL) that are of interest, and the selection and scoring of the appropriate instrument(s) to address the research questions. In my role as co-chair of the Biostatistics Protocol Review Committee, I am working to improve and standardize how the PRO components of research are detailed in MSKCC research protocols.
Finally, I am interested in the free, open-source R programming language and software environment for statistical computing and graphics (http://www.r-project.org/). I have authored an add-on package for R that scores most of the questionnaires in the “FACT” (Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy) and “FACIT” (Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy) quality of life measurement system. This package is called “FACTscorer” (http://cran.r-project.org/web/packages/FACTscorer/index.html).
I am also working on another, similar R package, to be called “PROscorer” that will include scoring algorithms for the EORTC family of quality of life instruments, as well as for the Female Sexual Function Index (FSFI), and numerous other PROs that I encounter in my work. It will also include more general, generic functions that others can use as the building blocks for their own functions to score instruments not included in “PROscorer”.