Courtney Lynam Scherr

Courtney Lynam Scherr
Northwestern University | NU · Department of Communication Studies - Center for Communication and Health

PhD

About

54
Publications
7,738
Reads
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1,014
Citations
Introduction
I am an Assistant Professor of Health Communication in the Department of Communication Studies at Northwestern University. My research focuses on theoretically guided development and evaluation of difficult conversations in health. Please visit my website to learn more: https://www.courtneylscherr.com
Additional affiliations
August 2013 - June 2015
Moffitt Cancer Center
Position
  • PostDoc Position

Publications

Publications (54)
Article
Psychosocial counseling is the foundation of genetic counseling. Genetic counseling students are required to receive in‐depth training on psychosocial counseling techniques. In other medical disciplines, “medical improv,” an educational method derived from improvisational theatre, has been used to allow trainees to practice clinical skills without...
Article
Background Educating cardiologists and health care professionals about cardiovascular genetics and genetic testing is essential to improving diagnosis and management of patients with inherited cardiomyopathies and arrhythmias and those at higher risk for sudden cardiac death. The aim of this study was to understand cardiology and electrophysiology...
Article
Purpose Recent advances in genetics can facilitate the identification of at-risk individuals and diagnosis of cardiovascular disorders. As a nascent field, more research is needed to optimize the clinical practice of cardiovascular genetics, including the assessment of educational needs to promote appropriate use of genetic testing. Methods Qualit...
Article
Psychological reactance theory posits individuals seek to restore freedom when threatened. Communication scholars have hypothesized persuasive messages can constitute threats to freedom. The current study engages questions about the potential for different forms of narratives in public service announcements (PSAs) to trigger freedom threats by exam...
Article
Objective. The objective is to examine the scope of health communication media campaign process evaluation methods, findings, and dissemination practices. Data Source. A systematic review of peer-reviewed literature was conducted using database searches. Study Inclusion and Exclusion Criteria. Published studies on process and implementation evaluat...
Article
Alcoholic beverages are carcinogenic to humans. Globally, an estimated 4.1% of new cancer cases in 2020 were attributable to alcoholic beverages. However, the full cancer-burden due to alcohol is uncertain because for many cancer (sub)types associations remain inconclusive. Additionally, associations of consumption with therapeutic response, diseas...
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Objective To conduct a scoping review of existing studies that examine communication strategies that address uncertainty in health and categorize them using the taxonomy of uncertainty. Methods Relevant articles retrieved from ten databases were categorized according to the dimensions of the taxonomy of uncertainty, and study characteristics were...
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Objective We know little about how patients make decisions when they receive a variant of uncertain significance result (VUS) from genetic testing. The purpose of this study was to elucidate a model of patient-informed decision-making after receiving a VUS result. Methods Using an adapted Mental Models Approach, we conducted semi-structured interv...
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Full-text available
Parent-targeted reminders increase human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination rates. Our postcard reminders increased HPV vaccine initiation (receipt of at least one dose) by 60% among girls, but not substantially among boys. To select a complementary intervention that would maximize the effect of reminders, we assessed the percentage increase in HPV v...
Article
Objective. Clinicians regularly use panel genetic testing to identify hereditary breast cancer risk, but this practice increases the rate of receiving an ambiguous test result, the variant of uncertain significance (VUS). VUS results are a growing and long-term challenge for providers and have caused negative patient outcomes. The objective of this...
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Full-text available
Receiving a positive test result for a BRCA mutation is a life-altering event. Thrust into a biomedical category of “high-risk” for developing breast and ovarian cancer, unaffected BRCA-positive women confront decisions about how to manage their risk. The knowledge provided through the use of genetic testing burdens women with having to make crucia...
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The original version of this paper was inadvertently published with an incorrect author name. The correct name of the author is Marleah Dean. No other changes to the article have been made. We apologise for any inconvenience caused to our readers.
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The number of cases of aggressive prostate cancer is increasing. Differentiating between aggressive and indolent cases has resulted in increased difficulty for the physician and patient to decide on the best treatment option. Due to this challenge, efforts are underway to profile genetic risk for prostate cancer aggressiveness, which may help physi...
Article
Objective: To identify reasons for nonparticipation by African Americans in cardiovascular pharmacogenomic research. Design: Prospective, open-ended, qualitative survey. Setting: Research staff approached patients eligible for the Discovery Project of The African American Cardiovascular pharmacogenomics CONsorTium in the inpatient or outpatien...
Article
Whether a loss or gain frame has a persuasive advantage in communicating health risks is a matter of ongoing debate. Findings reported in the literature are mixed, suggesting that framing effects are likely complex and may be influenced by a combination of factors. This study examined reactance as a mediator and dose as a moderator of loss/gain fra...
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Precision Medicine, the practice of targeting prevention and therapies according to an individual's lifestyle, environment or genetics, holds promise to improve population health outcomes. Within precision medicine, pharmacogenomics (PGX) uses an individual's genome to determine drug response and dosing to tailor therapy. Most PGX studies have been...
Article
Receiving a positive result for a BRCA1/2 (BRCA) mutation - indicating a high lifetime risk to develop hereditary breast and ovarian cancer - can significantly alter a woman's identity. BRCA-positive women who have not been diagnosed with cancer may be labeled "previvors," which distinguishes those at-risk for developing cancer, but have not had ca...
Article
Narrative messages may be superior to didactic messages when providing educational information due to their natural format for information sharing, ability to engage audiences, and engender positive thoughts about the message. Although narrative messages are gaining popularity in health promotion, little guidance exists regarding the development ph...
Article
Objective Breast cancer (BC) survivors with a genetic mutation are at higher risk for subsequent cancer; knowing genetic risk status could help survivors make decisions about follow‐up screening. Uptake of genetic counseling and testing (GC/GT) to determine BRCA status is low among high risk BC survivors. This study assessed feasibility, acceptabil...
Article
Automated communication systems are increasingly common in mobile and ehealth contexts. Yet, there is reason to believe that some high risk segments of the population might be prone to avoid automated systems even though they are often designed to reach these groups. To facilitate research in this area, avoidance of automated communication (AAC) is...
Article
We used the Health Belief Model (HBM) to explore factors associated with readiness for genetic counseling among breast cancer survivors. Breast cancer survivors meeting NCCN genetic counseling referral criteria completed questionnaires capturing demographic and clinical information and factors guided by the HBM, including health beliefs, psychosoci...
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From a public health perspective, the “All of Us” study provides an opportunity to isolate targeted and cost-effective prevention and early-detection strategies. Identifying motivations for participation in large-scale genomic sequencing (LSGS) studies, and motivations and preferences to receive results will help determine effective strategies for...
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Despite ongoing research efforts to reclassify BRCA variant of uncertain significance (VUS), results for strategies to disseminate findings to genetic counselors are lacking. We disseminated results from a study on reclassification of BRCA VUS using a mailed reclassification packet including a reclassification guide, patient education aid, and pati...
Article
Women with BRCA mutations, at significantly increased risk for breast and ovarian cancer, do not consistently adhere to management guidelines due to lack of awareness and challenges tracking appointments. We developed an iPhone application (app) to help BRCA carriers manage their surveillance. We explored baseline awareness and adherence to surveil...
Article
Professional organizations provide surveillance guidelines for BRCA1 and BRCA2 (BRCA) carriers with intact breasts and/or ovaries to facilitate early cancer detection. However, literature indicates adherence to surveillance guidelines is inconsistent at best. Using the Messaging Model for Health Communication Campaigns framework, we undertook a two...
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Background and objectives: Residency training is a pivotal time to establish skills for career-long practices, particularly for challenging skills such as human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine recommendation. Training experience and preferences related to delivering HPV vaccine recommendations were examined for family medicine (FM) residents and facu...
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The 2015 announcement of the Precision Medicine Initiative (PMI) galvanized and energized efforts to reconsider medical practice through tailoring of prevention and treatment recommendations based on genetics, environment, and lifestyle. Numerous disciplines contributed white papers identifying challenges associated with PMI and calling for discipl...
Article
The current study situated loss/gain-framing research in the extended parallel process model and tested whether two message features (dose, efficacy appeals) and four individual difference variables (walking self-efficacy, grit, consideration of future consequences, health information overload (HIO)) moderated the impact of message framing on inten...
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The purpose of this study is to identify female previvors’ perceptions of hereditary breast and ovarian cancer (HBOC) health-related information. Previvors are individuals who have tested positive for a harmful BRCA genetic mutation, which increases their lifetime risk for HBOC, but who have never been diagnosed with cancer. As a part of a larger r...
Article
e13047 Background: Women with deleterious BRCA1/2mutations have a significantly increased lifetime risk to develop ovarian cancer. Prophylactic surgery can significantly reduce ovarian cancer risk. The Northwestern Ovarian Cancer Early Detection and Prevention Program (NOCEDPP) was established to monitor this high-risk population prior to risk-redu...
Article
Objective: To investigate BRCA-positive, unaffected patients' - referred to as previvors - information needs after testing positive for a deleterious BRCA genetic mutation. Methods: 25 qualitative interviews were conducted with previvors. Data were analyzed using the constant comparison method of grounded theory. Results: Analysis revealed a t...
Article
Objective: Black women have a higher rate of BRCA1 and BRCA2 (BRCA) mutations, compared with other populations, that increases their risk for hereditary breast and ovarian cancer (HBOC). However, Black women are less likely to know about HBOC and genetic testing. Based on a request from a community advisory panel of breast cancer survivors, commun...
Article
Background: Promoting vaccination during pandemics is paramount to public health, yet few studies examined theoretical motivations for vaccination during pandemics. Thus, the relationships between dispositional pandemic worry, constructs of the health belief model (HBM) and vaccination during the H1N1 pandemic were studied. Methods: Participants...
Article
Aims: We describe practitioner knowledge and practices related to Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer (HBOC) in an evolving landscape of genetic testing. Methods: A survey was mailed in late 2013 to Florida providers who order HBOC testing. Descriptive statistics were conducted to characterize participants' responses. Results: Of 101 responde...
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Purpose: We evaluated Florida-based physicians' awareness and use of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) "You are the Key" campaign website, including messages to support physicians' human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine recommendations. Methods: Using closed-ended and free-text survey items, physicians' (n=355) practices related...
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Public dissemination of scientific research often focuses on the finding (e.g., nanobombs kill lung cancer) rather than the uncertainty/limitations (e.g., in mice). Adults (n = 880) participated in an experiment where they read a manipulated news report about cancer research (a) that contained either low or high uncertainty (b) that was attributed...
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Background: Previous studies found genetic counseling increased participants' knowledge about hereditary breast and ovarian cancer (HBOC). However, most explored knowledge gain in unaffected women and the scale most commonly used does not include items that may be more pertinent to breast cancer (BC) survivors. Aims: To explore whether genetic c...
Article
Studies indicate variant of uncertain significance (VUS) results are challenging for genetic counselors and patients, often resulting in negative patient outcomes. Genetic counselors' current practices regarding VUS are unknown. This study utilized a national survey of genetic counselors (n = 932) to examine current practices and confidence related...
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Background: Little is known about barriers to Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer (HBOC) genetic counseling among Puerto Rican women. Objective: This study reviews existing literature to identify individual, interpersonal, and systems level factors that may impact the use of HBOC genetic services among Puerto Rican women living in the United St...
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Purpose: The aim of this study was to explore genetic counselors' information preferences on reports of variant of uncertain significance (VUS) results from cancer genetic testing. Methods: This mixed methods report (quantitative and qualitative approaches) utilized a survey of genetic counselors containing closed- and open-ended questions to ex...
Conference Paper
Purpose: Of an estimated 3 million breast cancer survivors in the U.S, the median age at diagnosis is 61 years for all racial/ethnic groups combined. Although the overall incidence of breast cancer is lower in Black women compared to White women, they are more likely to develop and die from early onset (age 50 years or younger) aggressive disease....
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The Health Belief Model (HBM) posits that messages will achieve optimal behavior change if they successfully target perceived barriers, benefits, self-efficacy, and threat. While the model seems to be an ideal explanatory framework for communication research, theoretical limitations have limited its use in the field. Notably, variable ordering is c...
Article
Genetic counseling and testing for hereditary breast and ovarian cancer now includes practitioners from multiple healthcare professions, specialties, and settings. This study examined whether non-genetics professionals (NGPs), perform guideline-based patient intake and informed consent before genetic testing. NGPs offering BRCA testing services in...
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Compared with incidence rates, certain cancers are over- or underrepresented in news coverage. Past content analytic research has consistently documented these news distortions, but no study has examined whether they are related to public perception of cancer incidence. Adults (N = 400) completed a survey with questions about perceived cancer incid...
Article
Previous research indicates that nurses feel they have not had adequate training to prepare them for caring for a dying patient and their family. As the demand for nurses continues to grow, and the population continues to age, caring for dying patients will become a more significant stressor. The stress of the situation, combined with the lack of a...
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Past research has observed that certain subgroups (e.g., individuals who are overweight/obese) have inaccurate estimates of survival rates for particular cancers (e.g., colon cancer). However, no study has examined whether the lay public can accurately rank cancer survival rates in comparison with one another (i.e., rank cancers from most deadly to...
Article
Purdue University's Center for Healthcare Engineering developed a computer-assisted technology hub (CATHUB) designed to aid individuals with disabilities. Upon realizing the lack of input from the very individuals they were trying to help, Marifran approached the developers of CATHUB and offered to engage a group of amputees to aid in the design an...
Article
As end-of-life care becomes a more prominent issue in health care, it is important to address the experience from the caregivers' perspective. In order to cope with the stressful experience of caring for a dying patient, nurses need programmes that both help them develop coping strategies and prepare them for caring for dying patients as well as re...
Article
The nursing shortage continues to be a problem in the United States, in part, owing to the experience of stress and burnout by practicing nurses. With an ageing population, the stress of caring for dying patients and their families is one reason for the high levels of stress and burnout. Although we know that caring for dying patients is stressful...

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Project
Please visit my website to see a few examples of current projects my lab is working on: https://www.courtneylscherr.com/research-projects