My research aims to improve clinical care by deepening understanding of how each patient's developmental history, personality, beliefs, and attitudes can influence their
• susceptibility to disease
• experience of illness
• willingness to report symptoms
• interactions with clinicians and the healthcare system
• ability to recruit help from family or friends for their health needs
I have addressed these issues in clinical research conducted at the URMC and other academic health centers as well as in secondary analyses of public datasets. The clinical studies have been conducted in an array of health care settings, including primary care and specialty care (psychiatry, oncology, neurology). My current research focuses on the development of customized interventions to overcome barriers to effective communication and decision-making about emotion-laden topics (e.g., end-of-life decisions, cancer treatment decisions, mental health treatment) in medical care. Another area of current interest is the impact of clinician characteristics (e.g., personality, personal experiences) on clinical care and patient outcomes.
In 2009, along with colleagues in the Departments of Public Health Sciences and Family Medicine, I formed the Rochester Health Care Decision Making Group. The mission of the HCDMG is to create knowledge that helps patients, family caregivers, and clinicians make effective decisions about health and health care while minimizing the emotional and cognitive burdens of decision-making.
I have served as Associate Editor (2007-2009; 2013-present) and Interim Editor (2010-2012) of the American Psychological Association's flagship aging journal, Psychology and Aging. At URMC I have served as the Director of the Laboratory of Personality and Development (2000-2012), as well as Co-Director of the Center for the Study and Prevention of Suicide (2002-2008) and the Rochester Center for Mind Body Research (2004-2008). I have worked closely with local physicians, scientists and community partners as well as with a network of national collaborators. I have also collaborated with scientists in Australia, Canada, China, Germany, France, Hong Kong, Iceland, Spain, and Sweden, where I have a longstanding affiliation with Göteborg University's Neuroepidemiology Program.