Education & Training
- BA, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL (1999)
- MD, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA (2003)
- MHS, The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD (2009)
- Hastings Center Cuniff-Dixon Early Career Physician Award (2016)
- American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine, Young Investigator Award (2014)
- Selected as 1 of 44 Hospice and Palliative Medicine Inspirational Leaders Under 40 by the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine (2014)
- American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine, Young Investigator Award (2012–2013)
- American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine, Best Paper Award (2011–2012)
Dr. Sharma is a palliative care physician and health services researcher in the Division of General Internal Medicine. Her research uses qualitative, quantitative, and community-engagement methods to improve the quality of care for patients with serious illness and their families through the development and implementation of multi-level interventions. A major focus of her work is to address inequities in care for minoritized patients and families, particularly for those from immigrant communities. She is the PI of an R01 from the National Institute on Aging that seeks to understand the palliative care needs of Latinx, Chinese, and Vietnamese older adults with dementia and limited-English proficiency and their families. She is also the PI of a Research Scholar Grant from the American Cancer Society that is evaluating barriers to palliative care for Latinx, Vietnamese, and Somali patients with advanced cancer and limited-English proficiency and their families. In addition, Dr. Sharma serves as a co-Investigator on three additional R01s: 1) examining decision-making preferences among older adults with dementia utilizing discrete choice experiments (PI: Turner), 2) evaluating the impact of financial hardship on hospitalized patients with acute respiratory failure and their family caregivers (PI: Khandelwal), and 3) testing a communication-based intervention to facilitate goals-of-care discussions for older adults with dementia (MPI: Kross and Curtis).
Understanding and Improving Inequities in Palliative Care for Older Adults with Advanced Dementia and Limited-English Proficiency: A Mixed-Methods Evaluation
This NIA-funded R01 study uses a mixed-methods approach to detect disparities in the quality of care for older adults with Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias (ADRD) and limited-English proficiency (LEP) across palliative care domains using EHR data; advances our understanding of important and modifiable patient, family, provider, and system level factors driving these disparities using interviews with key stakeholders; and assesses community-level resources, capacity, and needs to support high quality palliative care for three diverse LEP communities (Latinx, Chinese, and Vietnamese). This contribution is expected to be significant because it will identify targets for the development of effective multi-level, culturally and linguistically-appropriate interventions to reduce inequities in palliative care for this vulnerable population.
Care Inequities in Advanced Cancer and Limited-English Proficiency
The goal of this study, funded by the American Cancer Society, is to apply a multi-level approach to identifying patient, family, clinician, system, and community-level targets for intervention to improve the quality of palliative care for patients with advanced cancer and limited-English proficiency (LEP) across five LEP communities at high risk of experiencing inequities in cancer care (Latinx, Vietnamese, Somali, Cambodian, and Ethiopian). The results of this study will inform the development of multi-level interventions that can be successfully implemented and adapted for patients with advanced cancer of different linguistic and cultural backgrounds, their families, clinicians, and the communities where they live. Ultimately, this work will help eliminate inequities in the delivery of high-quality, palliative care for patients with LEP and advanced cancer.
Person-Centered Decision-Making: Developing a Choice-Based Preference Tool for Transitions in Dementia Care
The goal of this study is to advance our understanding of decision-making processes, and the factors that influence decision making at different points in time, for older adults with Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias (ADRD) and their caregivers.
- Sharma RK, Astrow AB, Texeira K, Sulmasy DP. The Spiritual Needs Assessment for Patients (SNAP): Development and Validation of a Comprehensive Instrument to Assess Unmet Spiritual Needs. J Pain Symptom Manage 2012 Jul;44(1):44–51. Epub 2012 Jun 1.
- Sharma RK, Jain N, Peswani N, Szmuilowicz E, Wayne DB, Cameron KA. Unpacking Resident-Led Code Status Discussions: Results from a Mixed Methods Study. J Gen Intern Med. 2014 May;29(5):750–7. Epub 2014 Feb 14.
- Sharma RK, Hughes MT, Nolan MT, Tudor C, Kub J, Terry PB, Sulmasy DP. Family Understanding of Seriously-Ill Patient Preferences for Family Involvement in Healthcare Decision Making. J Gen Intern Med. 2011 Aug;26(8):881–6. Epub 2011 Apr 16.
- Sharma RK, Cameron KA, Chmiel JS, Von Roenn JH, Szmuilowicz E, Prigerson HG, Penedo FJ. Racial/Ethnic Differences in Inpatient Palliative Care Consultation for Patients with Advanced Cancer. J Clin Oncol. 2015 Nov 10;33(32)3802–8. Epub 2015 Aug 31.