Dr. Tracy Onega receives NCI grant to study regional cancer care (Cancer Service Areas)

Dr. Tracy Onega, together with collaborator, Dr. Fahui Wang has been awarded a newly funded National Cancer Institute (NCI) exploratory developmental grant. The project, titled “Cancer Service Areas”, will be based at Dartmouth/Geisel and deepens an existing collaboration with Dr. Fahui Wang of Louisiana State University (LSU), a highly-respected geographer and economist, who developed the seminal two-step floating catchment area (2SFCA) methodology.

This project will develop a refined approach for generating utilization-based service areas specific to cancer care - Cancer Service Areas (CSAs) – geospatial units analogous to Hospital Service Areas (HSAs), but based on cancer-related utilization – in order to create a framework for assessing regional cancer care delivery, quality, and outcomes. The specific aims for this work are to 1) develop an automated program using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to derive cancer-specific utilization-based Cancer Service Areas (CSAs); 2) evaluate the CSAs versus Dartmouth HSAs to assess their spatial specificity to the population of interest. Localization index (LI), the proportion of measured utilization that occurs within the service area, is a critical index of assessing “goodness” of the units; And, 3) demonstrate the utility of CSAs as unique spatial units with respect to the cancer population.

Dr. Fahui Wang specializes in the development of novel methods for solving geographic issues of social importance. Dr. Wang’s work, in combination with Dr. Onega’s extensive work in the area of health services research—with a particular focus on the continuum of cancer care, translates to a powerful and dynamic research combination to address a fundamental issue in the delivery of cancer care.

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About Dr. Tracy Onega, PhD, MA, MS
Dr. Tracy Onega is an associate professor, and interim division director, of biomedical data science in the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth College. She focuses on population-based approaches to optimizing how cancer care resources are allocated across populations and how the spatial distribution of services can impact treatment and outcomes. With a background in geography and health informatics, her major interests focus on access to cancer care, including screening, treatment, and surveillance; how where care is received influences treatment and outcomes; and how geoinformatics can lead to better use of healthcare resources.

About Dr. Fahui Wang, PhD
Dr. Fahui Wang, James J Parsons Professor, Department of Geography and Anthropology, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA, USA. Dr. Wang has extensive experience in applications of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and spatial analysis in health studies, with primary interests in analysis of health care allocation and accessibility, their impacts and policy mitigation. He is the author of “Quantitative Methods and Applications in GIS” (Taylor & Francis, 2006), “Quantitative Methods and Socioeconomic Applications in GIS” (2nd ed., Taylor & Francis, 2015) and over 100 refereed articles across various disciplines (health studies journal outlets include Cancer, Medical Care, Health Services Research, Health & Place, I J Health Geographics, J Medical Systems). He has served multiple panels of NIH Scientific Review Groups (HSOD, SBIR and HDEP) since 2006.

About The Department of Biomedical Data Science