UH Cancer Center postdoctoral researcher awarded fellowship grant to expand care coordination study to Hawaiʻi Island

July 22, 2020

Izumi Okado

University of Hawaiʻi Cancer Center postdoctoral researcher, Izumi Okado, Ph.D., has received a Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award F32 fellowship grant from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), which will allow her to conduct care coordination research on the island of Hawaiʻi. The grant is funded by the AHRQ, whose mission is focused on improving healthcare delivery in the U.S.

This prestigious grant provides support during Okado’s postdoctoral research training under faculty sponsors. Her primary mentor and sponsor is UH Cancer Center Director Randall Holcombe, M.D., M.B.A.

Conducting care coordination research on Hawaiʻi Island gives researchers the opportunity to understand and improve healthcare delivery for rural cancer patients. Studies show that cancer patients in rural areas have higher mortality rates than those residing in urban areas. They are also more likely to be diagnosed with advanced-stage cancers, have coexisting but unrelated disease conditions and experience delays in receiving diagnoses and treatments.

“For many rural patients, cancer treatment poses significant care coordination challenges. Many of these patients need to travel long distances for cancer treatment. It takes a considerable amount of time, costs and effort for some patients on Hawaiʻi Island to seek and receive cancer treatment,” said Okado.

Okado’s prior research focused on the care coordination perspectives of patients and family caregivers on Oʻahu. The current study will compare rural and urban cancer patients’ perceptions of care coordination, and examine the association between rural cancer patients’ perceptions of care coordination and specific care delivery outcomes.

“We are hoping that the results from this study will inform potential strategies to improve care coordination in rural areas, particularly in our neighbor islands. Reducing delays in diagnosis and treatment may improve outcomes for rural cancer patients,” stated Okado.