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Our Research

The Kepka group is engaged in population science research that addresses health disparities related to cancer risk in vulnerable populations, with the goal of driving quality improvement and increased access to primary health care services for cancer prevention and control among minority and underserved populations.

Major areas of focus for the Kepka group are the low rates of Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination in Utah, and cervical cancer prevention among U.S. Latinas. HPV can cause cervical, oral, anal, penile, and vaginal cancers and is responsible for over 20,000 cancers in women and 12,000 cancers in women every year. Latinas carry a disproportionate burden of cervical cancer, which is primarily caused by the virus.

Despite strong evidence of the efficacy and safety of HPV vaccines, the utilization and completion rates of this vaccine among adolescents in Utah is lowest in the nation. The issue of low HPV vaccination is particularly critical for underserved groups who have the highest incidence of cervical cancer.

The Kepka group also maintains strong collaborative partnerships with various community stakeholders to identify barriers to and facilitators of population-based cancer prevention behavioral change in the community, develop strategic interventions, and assess the feasibility and sustainability of provider and system level changes.