Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine
Faculty Profiles
Sara  Shaunfield, PhD

Sara Shaunfield, PhD

Research Assistant Professor of Medical Social Sciences

Focus of Work

Bio

Dr. Sara Shaunfield received a PhD in communication from the University of Kentucky. Dr. Shaunfield takes a social constructivist approach to research, and primarily employs qualitative methods to investigate and enhance patient and family-centered health outcomes. Dr. Shaunfield's early research utilized qualitative methods to investigate the role of health communication in improving individual and family outcomes within the contexts of aging, palliative, and end-of-life care. Over the past nin...[Read full text]Dr. Sara Shaunfield received a PhD in communication from the University of Kentucky. Dr. Shaunfield takes a social constructivist approach to research, and primarily employs qualitative methods to investigate and enhance patient and family-centered health outcomes. Dr. Shaunfield's early research utilized qualitative methods to investigate the role of health communication in improving individual and family outcomes within the contexts of aging, palliative, and end-of-life care. Over the past nine years she has conducted extensive qualitative research with patients and family members in both inpatient and outpatient healthcare settings. Her qualitative research training and experience includes semi-structured phone and face-to-face interviews, focus groups, expert interviews, open elicitation and cognitive interviewing techniques.

Since joining Northwestern, Dr. Shaunfield has worked closely with David Cella (PI of the statistical coordinating center for the NIH Roadmap Initiative to build a Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System; PROMIS®) as a core member of Northwestern University Center on Outcomes Research and Education (NUCORE) where she leads and conducts qualitative scale development and content validation studies of illness-specific patient-reported outcomes measures including PROMIS®, Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy (FACIT), and Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy (FACT). In addition to her role in NUCORE, she regularly collaborates with researchers across departments and disciplines to provide methodological expertise as a co-investigator on several funded projects. For example, currently, she is collaborating on an NIH funded project as a qualitative methodologist to modify existing and develop a new measure of itch for use in pediatric patients with atopic dermatitis (1U19AR069526-01). Recently, Dr. Shaunfield collaborated with Dr. Lauren Wakschlag and her team as a qualitative methodologist on two projects: 1) content validation of the Multidimensional Assessment of Preschool Disruptive Behavior (MAP-DB) items among a demographically diverse sample of preschool and school age parents (HHSN2752012000071), and 2) a pilot focus group study with mothers of infants and toddlers (12-36 months old) to inform item selection and modification of existing (MAP-DB) items, of which are currently being used in an NIH funded study to assess and differentiate the onset of atypical irritability pathways beginning in infancy (1R01MH107652-01A1).[Shorten text]

Academic Focus

Dr. Shaunfield's independent research focuses on interpersonal health communication, informal caregiving, and caregiver burden within the context of hospice and palliative care. Specifically, her research interests include the family caregiver experience communicating with patients, others, and health care professionals about sensitive topics, concerns, and the influence of these stressful yet necessary encounters on outcomes. Dr. Shaunfield has experience using mixed methods and extensive train...[Read full text]Dr. Shaunfield's independent research focuses on interpersonal health communication, informal caregiving, and caregiver burden within the context of hospice and palliative care. Specifically, her research interests include the family caregiver experience communicating with patients, others, and health care professionals about sensitive topics, concerns, and the influence of these stressful yet necessary encounters on outcomes. Dr. Shaunfield has experience using mixed methods and extensive training in qualitative research methods. She has worked on two NIH randomized clinical trials (R01NR012213-01, 1R01NR011472-01) to assess the impact of family caregiver interventions in hospice, and collaborated on a project funded by The Rural Cancer Prevention Research Center (1U48DP001932-01) to investigate communication strategies for increasing demand for HPV vaccination, Pap testing, and follow-up care in the under-served area of rural Kentucky Appalachia.[Shorten text]

Keywords


Education and Certification

  • MS: U of N Texas, Communication (2011)
  • PhD: U Of Kentucky, Communication (2015)