Dr. Sharma’s research focuses on improving care for patients with serious illness with a focus on racial and ethnic minorities and immigrant populations. In addition to her research in the area of health equity and serious illness, she also serves as Director of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion for the UW Medicine Cambia Palliative Care Center of Excellence.

Current Projects

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.