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Karen J. Wernli

I am a Cancer Epidemiologist and Health Services Researcher.

Karen J. Wernli, Ph.D., M.S.

Kaiser Foundation Research Institute

I was in this field for many years, before I experienced the loss of a family member due to cancer. Watching her cancer experience and the impact on our family, I realized that several treatment decisions are driven by the need to do something, when really nothing else can be done for a patient. I knew then that I wanted my research to directly impact cancer care that is timely, relevant, and compassionate. For me now, it is the collection of several personal experiences that drive my research.

Dr. Wernli focuses her research to addresses the confluence of patient and clinician need in cancer care. Her research program spans the cancer care continuum from prevention to survivorship and end of life. She uses mixed methods to understand both the patterns within data and the context across multiple levels in a healthcare ecosystem to impact and improve patient-centered outcomes.

Her current project is a multilevel intervention to test two interventions to improve annual adherence to lung cancer screening with low-dose CT (LDCT). The interventions were developed using human-centered design to address multilevel patient and stakeholder needs. The interventions include a Patient Voices video and Stepped Reminder, which both address barriers and facilitators identified in formative work. The continued participation in screening leads to population-level benefit in reduction in lung cancer mortality, but adherence to annual screening remains quite low relative to other cancer screening tests. Our proposal will be amongst the first to test strategies to improve annual adherence to LDCT.

After doing several years of research in breast and colorectal cancer screening, Dr. Wernli became interested in the key lessons learned from these two screening processes that she could apply in lung cancer screening. Given the significant public health burden, newness of lung cancer screening, and our understanding from other cancer screening tests, Dr. Wernli sees a need for additional intervention studies to further the implementation of lung cancer screening within US healthcare.


Grant Listing
Project Title Grant Number Program Director Publication(s)
Multilevel Interventions to Increase Adherence to Lung Cancer Screening
1R01CA262015-01
Erica Breslau


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Last Updated: 08/19/2021 12:18:12