NRG Innovations Continue in Cancer Care Delivery Research

January 18 2023

Megan Mullins, Ph.D., M.P.H. (Assistant Professor, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center) is a thought leader expanding the breadth of NRG’s efforts to advance cancer care for underrepresented populations. Dr. Mullins informs NRG inquiry in the emerging field of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity.

Dr. Mullins received her PhD in Epidemiology from the University of Michigan and completed a post-doctoral fellowship in cancer care delivery research at the University of Michigan’s Rogel Cancer Center. This post-doctoral program allowed Dr. Mullins to hone her keen aptitude for identifying cancer care delivery patterns advancing patient-centered and system-level outcomes in cancer care. Dr. Mullins augmented her extensive training by earning a Multilevel Intervention Research Training Certificate from the National Cancer Institute’s Multilevel Intervention Research Training Institute (MLTI).Insights gleaned through this training program led Dr. Mullins to adopt a multilevel (patient, provider, and organizational factors) perspective for her research.

As part of the University of Michigan’s T32 post-doctoral program, Dr. Mullins, completed a two-year NRG Oncology Research Fellowship with the Cancer Care Delivery Research (CCDR) Committee (August 2022). Dr. Mullins credits her NRG fellowship for jumpstarting her scholarship elucidating and improving cancer care for sexual and gender minorities. Dr. Mullins and similarly committed scholars observed a paucity of sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) data collection rates, per the NCI Community Oncology Research Program (NCORP) Landscape Survey. Consequently, Dr. Mullins stewarded a pilot study clarifying NCORP’s current SOGI data collection practices and an implementation strategy encouraging routine SOGI data collection. Findings suggest that clinical leaders do not presently believe SOGI data will inform or improve clinical care. Consequently, oncology providers did not prioritize SOGI data collection, and lacked awareness of SOGI data in the electronic health record. Dr. Mullins also observed that the sampled practices commonly lacked staff training on SOGI data/ data collection. Dr. Mullins subsequently developed an evidence-based implementation strategy to address identified barriers. The strategy includes training on “how and why” providers should collect SOGI data in oncology settings, a brief script for soliciting SOGI questions and responding to common patient questions, a policy to collect SOGI from all patients, and identifying a SOGI data collection champion. Dr. Mullins presented this work at the 2022 ASCO Quality Care Symposium and the 2022 Academy Health Conference on the Science of Dissemination and Implementation in Health (manuscripts forthcoming).

Dr. Mullins’ scholarship invigorates NRG’s pre-existing commitment to intervening on health disparities. Our CCDR Committee is enthusiastic about Dr. Mullins advancing her research interests to the heretofore uncharted cancer care delivery frontier.


Mullins MA, Rankin A, Washington A, Stasenko M, Cooley ME, Hudson MF, Friese C, Wallner LP. “Developing a multilevel implementation strategy for routine sexual orientation and gender identity data collection in the National Cancer Institute’s Community Oncology Research Program” Academy Health Annual Conference on the Science of Dissemination & Implementation in Health, Washington DC, December 2022.

Mullins MA, Rankin A, Washington A, Stasenko M, Friese C, Cooley M, Hudson M, Wallner LP.
“It really does not matter to me, they can be two purple unicorns”: Barriers and Facilitators to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) Measurement in the NCI Community Oncology Research Program (NCORP). ASCO Quality Care Symposium, Chicago IL, September 2022. 

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