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URMC / Family Medicine / Research / Center for Communication and Disparities Research


Center for Communication and Disparities Research

Ronald M. Epstein, MD., Director
Professor of Family Medicine, Psychiatry, Oncology and Medicine (Palliative Care)

Kevin Fiscella, MD, MPH., Co-Director
Dean's Professorship of Family Medicine, Professor of Public Health Sciences and Community Health

Steven Barnett, MD, Faculty
Associate Professor of Family Medicine and Public Health Sciences



The Center for Communication and Disparities Research and the University of Rochester Department of Family Medicine are national leaders in research on healthcare communication and health disparities, with over $18,604,896 in funding over the past 10 years from the National Institute of Health, Robert Wood Foundation, American Cancer Society, National Cancer Institute, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, Arnold P. Gold Foundation, National Institute of Mental Health, and Patient-Centered Communication in Cancer Care (PCORI) among others.

The mission of the Center is to improve health, advance health care quality and eliminate disparities in health and health care. Our research focuses on:

  • Implementation and rigorous assessment of novel interventions to improve communication and reduce disparities
  • Educating and training directed at health care professionals, patients, families and the community
  • Communication among patients, families, physicians, and other health care professionals in health care settings
  • Underserved and vulnerable populations
  • Identifying and addressing pathways that produce and eliminate disparities in health and health care

The Center is housed in Family Medicine and actively collaborates with several departments and centers at the University, including Psychiatry, Palliative care, Public Health Sciences, and the Wilmot Cancer Center. The Center contributes to research that shows that effective communication can promote patient, family and relationship-centered care through:

  • Strengthening healing relationships characterized by trust, caring, compassion, humility
  • Improving health outcomes of acute, chronic, and life-limiting conditions
  • Reducing the impact of racial, ethnic, disease-specific, and socioeconomic factors in care, and bridging differences in culture, class, and power
  • Improving health behavior outcomes through lifestyle interventions
  • Addressing end-of-life needs of people with serious and life-limiting conditions
  • Improving the effectiveness of prevention and health promotion

The Center is a national and international model for cutting-edge translational research in communication and health, and a vehicle for dissemination of strategies to improve healthcare communication.