Professor of Pediatrics, University of Colorado School of Medicine
Director, Surgical/Subspecialist Clinical Outcomes Research Program (SCORE) Fellowship
Research Director, Pediatric Hospital Medicine, Children’s Hospital Colorado
Dr. Dempsey has an extensive research background in immunization delivery, particularly focused on HPV vaccines, and is recognized internationally for this work. She has led numerous studies related to improving vaccine delivery in the primary care setting, and has been the Principal Investigator on several large grants, receiving funding from PCORI, NIH, and CDC. She also directs the successful SCORE (Surgical/Subspecialist Clinical Outcomes Research Program) Fellowship at ACCORDS. The primary goal of the two-year fellowship is to provide existing or new faculty with the building blocks to conduct clinical translational or outcomes research and, in the future, to be successful in obtaining extramural funding. In July 2018 she was appointed as research director for Pediatric Hospital medicine, overseeing mentorship, resources, and didactic related to those in the Division wishing to pursue research as a substantial component of their careers.
1. Why is your area of science important?
Immunizations are a cornerstone of preventive health. This means that ensuring that reach and maintain high immunization rates for recommended vaccines is critically important. With the advent of the internet and social media there is a growing movement nationally and globally for vaccine hesitancy. Finding ways to arrest and reverse this movement is needed in order to ensure that vaccines are used to their greatest potential.
2. What was important in your Health Services Research training?
It was necessary to first build foundational skills in epidemiology and HSR with formal coursework and lots and lots of mentoring. And then adopting a mindset of lifelong learning to continue to keep abreast of important discoveries in my area of science, as well as advances in HSR methodologies.
3. What are the major take home messages your current research provides?
That although vaccination rates are generally high in this county, we cannot be complacent. We must actively work in the health sector to not only improve use of vaccines with lower utilization but ALSO to maintain high rates of vaccines that are used more frequently.
4. What are your goals or areas for future research?
Ideally I would like to find ways to help both provider and parents to reduce vaccine hesitancy. We have some exciting results in how providers can communicate about vaccines more effectively and a goal of mine is to find ways to feasibly disseminate this approach. However, more than one approach is needed. Finding other ways to positively influence parents’ and patients’ views about vaccines is another big research goal of mine.
5. What advice do you have for researchers who want to work in this area? Or what is the most important advice you have received from your mentors?
I think the most important piece of advice is to not give up! Funding in any area of science is difficult, and the same is true for immunization delivery. So write as many grants to as many agencies as is feasible and hopefully one or more will get some traction. And try not to take it too personally when you don’t get funded.