Meet the Lab: Dr. Heather Neuman’s GEAR lab

Pictured: (bottom row): Dr. Heather Neuman, resident Dr. Trista Stankowski-Drengler. (back row): Jessica Schumacher, Jennifer Tucholka

Meet one of our many research labs! Here’s Dr. Heather Neuman’s lab, in their own words:

We are committed to improving how cancer care is delivered by generating evidence to inform real-world clinical practice. Our research is focused on three key areas: 1) increasing patient engagement in breast cancer surgery decision making, 2) understanding socioeconomic disparities in breast reconstruction, and 3) improving the current, evidence-based recommendations for breast cancer follow-up.

We currently have R01 funding from the Agency of Healthcare Research and Quality to investigate opportunities to increase patient engagement in breast cancer surgery decision making as a way to decrease socioeconomic disparities in surgical care. This study will examine how routine use of a breast cancer surgery decision aid impacts patient engagement within ten U.S. surgical practices participating in the National Cancer Institute Community Oncology Research Program. Audio-recording of patient surgeon consultations, patient surveys, and one-on-one interviews will be used to identify persistent barriers to patient engagement and identify opportunities for future interventions. Our team was recently awarded the Society of Surgical Oncology Clinical Investigator Award to examine factors underlying socioeconomic disparities in reconstruction within Wisconsin. This study will survey breast surgeons, plastic surgeons, and patient navigators with the goal of understanding the factors that drive the socioeconomic disparities we observe in our state. Future work will involve eliciting the patient perspective and engaging stakeholders to generate novel interventions to reduce these disparities.

Our final research area builds off of Dr. Neuman’s career development award focused on breast cancer follow-up. Next steps in this research trajectory are to engage stakeholders to develop a patient-centered intervention that can reduce the burden and improve the quality of breast cancer follow-up for patients at low risk of recurrence.