Dr. Shaw has filled roles ranging from interviewer to principal investigator on many NIH-funded research studies, including several with a focus on health disparities. Her training as a medical anthropologist provides her with a strong background in ethnography and analyses of cultural difference.
Dr. Shaw's NCI-funded study, “The Impact of Cultural Differences on Health Literacy and Chronic Disease Outcomes” (R01CA128455), explored chronic disease and cultural influences on health literacy among patients from 4 ethnic groups (African-American, Latino, Vietnamese, and white) at Caring Health Center (Shaw et al. 2008, 2009, 2012a, 2012b; Orzech et al. 2012). In this study she provided overall scientific direction to an 8-member research team including project manager, data analyst, interviewers, and research assistants in two states (Arizona and Massachusetts), maintaining daily contact by email and telephone and holding regularly biweekly project meetings via videoconference. She conducted much of the ethnographic research herself during two sabbaticals and over winter and summer breaks spent on site. Publications from this study examine patients’ culturally variable approaches to chronic disease self-management (Orzech et al. 2012) and prevention (Armin et al., forthcoming, Shaw et al. 2012b).
Their ethnographic research revealed important differences in interpretations of health literacy measures across ethnic groups (Shaw et al. 2012), various fears and anxieties about chronic medication use, and limited understanding of the consequences of nonadherence.