Communication, Health Equity & Engagement Research (CHEER)

Areas of Interest

Health Communication • Health Equity • Cancer Survivors & Caregivers

Central to my training and research has been the drive to understand key factors that influence how people communicate about cancer and the actions that result from this communication with a focus on eliminating the influence that health disparities have in shaping and limiting decision options. My program of research focuses on promoting informed and shared decision making through effective communication and measuring and evaluating sociocultural and health disparities that influence patient information needs, knowledge, attitudes and behaviors.

Current Studies

Research Updates

We are heading to the IPOS World Congress! Doctoral student Jackie Knight Wilt and undergraduate Lillian Cai were both selected to present their work this summer in Toronto, Canada at the annual world congress for the International Psycho Oncology Society! And a Massey Community Cancer CHAMP, LaWanda was selected for an oral presentation to discuss her advocacy work in colorectal cancer! CONGRATULATIONS!!

Latest News

  • Lillian Cai has been awarded the Undergraduate Research and Creative Scholarship Fellowship from the Office of Undergraduate Research and Creative Inquiry at VCU. She will work with Dr. Thomson on a project examining cancer caregiver burden in the wake of COVID-19

  • Maria Thomson, PhD, is the lead on a pilot project on the newly funded project titled SUCCEED--VSU and Massey Cancer Center PartnErship for CancEr Disparities Research and Training. This is a prestigious team science grant from the National Cancer Institute (NCI).

  • CONGRATULATIONS DR. WILLIAMS!!! Dr. April Williams successfully defended her doctoral dissertation. She was awarded a prestigious 2 year fellowship at the VA called Big Data-Scientist Training Enhancement Program (BD-STEP) fellowship!! It is a unique training opportunity as it is a partnership between the VA and NCI.

Contact Information


e-mail: maria.thomson@vcuhealth.org830 East Main Street, 4th FloorRichmond, VA 23219
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New Pubs in Addressing Rural Cancer and Chronic Illness

    • Thomson MD, *Williams AR, Sutton AL, Tossas K, Garret C, Sheppard VB. Engaging Rural Communities in Cancer Prevention and Control Research: Development and Preliminary Insights from a Community Based Research Registry. Cancer Medicine. 2021. In Press.

    • Thomson MD, *Mariani A, *Williams A, Sutton S, Sheppard VB. (2021). Factors Associated With Use and Satisfaction of Telehealth by Adults in Rural Virginia During the COVID-19 Pandemic. Aug; 4(8): e2119530. doi: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2021.19530. PMID: 34351404

New Pubs in Cancer Family Caregivers

    • Thomson MD, Genderson M, Siminoff LA. (2021). Understanding Cancer Caregiver Burden Overtime: Dyadic Assessments of Family Cohesion. Patient Education and Counseling. In Press.

    • Thomson MD, Genderson MW, Siminoff LA. (2021). Presence of a Secondary Caregiver Differentiates Primary Cancer Caregiver Well-being. Supportive Care in Cancer. doi: 10.1007/s00520-021-06544-8 PMID: 34546455