The CHLHC performs research in a variety of areas including relational health literacy, long term contraception, hospital system health literacy, and patient centered oncology and communication.  The following research areas and associated publications were made possible through the center and it's many interdisciplinary teams.

Health Literacy

Understanding and facilitating health literacy is the primary goal of the CHLHC.  Patients, providers, and caregivers all assess, interpret, and apply health information in different ways which can lead to communication barriers to effective patient care.  Current center research in this area includes:

  • Goldsmith, J., & Terui, S. (2018). Family oncology caregivers and relational health literacy. Challenges,9(35), 1-10. doi:10.3390/challe9020035
  • Goldsmith, J., Young, M., Dale, L., & Powell, P. (2017). Plain language and health literacy for the oncology family caregiver: Examining an English/Spanish mHealth resource. Seminars in Oncology Nursing, 33(3), 498-506. doi: 10.1016/j/sonca.2017.09.008
  • Wittenberg, E., Ferrell, B., & Goldsmith, J. (2017). Assessing the Plain Language Planner for communication about medication. Journal of the Advanced Practitioner in Oncology 8(6). doi: 10.6004/jadpro.2017.8.6.x

Caregiver Communication

Caregivers are an integral part of the healthcare system.  These unpaid family members and friends typically do not possess formal medical training and donate their time to their sick loved one.  Caregivers both in person and at a distance face financial and emotional burdens which lead to a decline in caregiver health.  This is an obvious problem when the caregiver is relied on by the patient.  Present center research includes:

  • Goldsmith, J., Terui, S., Huang, J., & Wittenberg, E. (2018). Hispanic and African American oncology family caregivers and the Family Caregiver Communication Tool. Journal of Cancer Education, 33(suppl 1), 543-544.
  • Wittenberg, E., Ferrell, B., & Goldsmith, J., Ruel, N. (2017) Family Caregiver Communication Tool: A new measure for tailoring communication with cancer caregivers. Psycho-Oncology. Advance online publication. doi:10.1002/pon.4251
  • Wittenberg, E., & Ferrell, B., Goldsmith, J., Kravits, K., & Fujinami, R. (2017). Validation of a model of family caregiver communication types and related caregiver outcomes. Palliative and Supportive Care, 15(1), 3-11. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S1478951516000109

Palliative and End of Life Care

Palliative and end of life care are often confused as synonymous.  Palliative care refers to the interdisciplinary, team based approach to symptom relief for patients at all stages of illnesses while end of life care pays special attention to patients who are terminal.  Palliative and end of life care both have the ability to ease suffering and improve patient care.  The center has completed research on:

  • Goldsmith, J., & Ragan, S. (2017). Palliative care and the family caregiver: Trading Mutual Pretense (Empathy) for a Sustained Gaze (Compassion). Behavioral Sciences 7(2), 19. doi:10.3390/bs7020019
  • Young, A., Stephens, E., & Goldsmith, J. (2017). Family caregiver communication in the ICU:Toward a relational view of health literacy. Journal of Family Communication 10(2), 137-152.
  • doi:10.1080/15267431.2016.1247845
  • Wittenberg, E., Ferrell, B., Goldsmith, J., & Buller, H. (2015). Provider difficulties with spiritual and forgiveness communication at the end of life. American Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine, 33(9), 843-848. doi:10.1177/1049909115591811

Provider Trainings and the COMFORTTMSM Model 

The COMFORT model was designed to help train nurses in communication and has since evolved to create resources for providers, caregivers, and patients alike.  In conjunction with the Comfort Project, center research includes:

  • Wittenberg, E., Goldsmith, J., Buller, H., Ragan, S., & Ferrell, B. (In press). Oncology nurse communication training needs across the cancer continuum. Clinical Journal of Oncology Nursing.
  • Wittenberg, E., Ferrell, B., Goldsmith, J., Ragan, S., & Buller, H. (2018). COMFORTTMSM Communication for Oncology Nurses: Program overview and preliminary evaluation of a nationwide train-the-trainer course. Patient Education and Counseling,101(3), 467-474. doi: 10.1016/j.pec2017.09.012 
  • Wittenberg, E., Ferrell, B., & Goldsmith, J, Ragan, S., & Paice, J. (2016). Assessment of a statewide palliative care team training course: COMFORT Communication for Palliative Care Teams. Journal of Palliative Medicine, 19(7), 746-752. doi: 10.1089/jpm.2015.0522

mHealth and eHealth

Mobile health (mHealth) and online or electronic health (eHealth) avenues are changing the way patients and providers communicate about health.  From electronic medical records to mobile phone diagnostic applications, more information is available daily.  This increase in knowledge has benefits in provider transparency and access to alternative options as well as costs as patients are left to navigate most of these tools and subsequent findings on their own.  Previous center research includes:

  • Terui, S. & Lee, S. (revising). Online social support exchanges among pregnant women with language barriers.
  • Goldsmith, J., Terui, S., Young A., K., Dale, L., & Dale, C. (revision in progress). Assessing a bilingual mhealth resource with oncology providers and caregivers.
  • Kim, H., Goldsmith, J., Sengupta, S., Mahmood, A., Bhatt, J., Powell, M. P., &, Chang, C., &, Bhuyan,S. (2018). Mobile health application and e-health literacy: Opportunities and concerns for cancer patients and caregivers. Journal of Cancer Education. 10.1007/s13187-017-1293-5


In Memphis specifically, new diagnoses of HIV occur frequently and in vulnerable populations.  Pre-exposure (PrEP) is produced by Gilead and in most cases is free and has lead to a significant reduction in the risk of contracting HIV when taken daily but rarely used.  Present center efforts include community based interventions using college students with informational materials developed by the CHLHC on HIV and PrEP as the intervention.