Dr. Diane C. Tucker

Contact

Professor, Psychology and Director, University Science and Technology Honors Program

Other information

Other information:
Diane TuckerContact Information:

Email: dtucker@uab.edu
Office Phone: (205) 934 8885
Fax: (205) 996 5702

Education:

Ph.D., 1981, University of Iowa, Clinical and Developmental Psychology
Postdoctoral Fellow, Washington Univeristy, Developmental Neurobiology

Curriculum Vitae

Research Interests:

Work ongoing in Dr. Tucker’s laboratory focuses on several issues related to psycho-oncology and genetic testing.

The Internet has substantial potential as an adjunct to medical treatment during the 21st Century. Dr. Tucker’s group is pioneering use of the Internet to provide psychosocial support services to cancer patients. A program called SURVIVE has been developed through which breast cancer patients can participate in online support groups and receive assistance in developing more effective ways of coping with stresses associated with their cancer. This study will be conducted as a randomized clinical trial so that the benefits of the program can be documented. Related projects examine the quality and content of communication by cancer patients online. In collaboration with physicians in gynecologic oncology, factors that influence ovarian cancer patient’s preferences for treatment of recurrent or very advanced disease are being examined.

Perceptions of personal risk for health problems contribute to decisions about health related behaviors which have important effects on long-term health outcomes. Psychological resistance factors are hypothesized to be an important contributor to long term health outcomes both through facilitating positive health behaviors and buffering the effects of stress on health. The protective effects of psychological resilience for physical and psychological health are being investigated both in college students and in African American adults from rural communities. These will be the first data to compare the structure of psychological resistance factors between African American and European American populations.

Genetics has been called the next frontier for medicine. Dr. Tucker’s group is examining how people understand genetic risk information and how information about genetic risk is used in people’s evaluations of their personal risk, including their decisions about health related behaviors. A recently completed analogue study suggested that genetically-based risk information may not be weighted more heavily than family history risk information. A related question is whether perceived risk for one health problem alters perception of risk for another, unrelated problem. Dr. Tucker’s group is investigating whether perceived risk of breast cancer or heart disease leads to women discounting (i.e., minimizing) their risk for the other problem. Dr. Tucker’s group is part of UAB’s contribution to the HEIRS study, a large, multicenter study examining the feasibility and desirability of widespread genetic screening for a heritable, frequently undetected disorder called hemachromatosis. This disorder is especially interesting because deleterious consequences of the genetic defect can be completely prevented by early detection and treatment.

In summary, Dr. Tucker’s research group is focusing on psychological factors which may alter the risk of developing chronic disorders such as cancer and on using psychosocial interventions to improve the outcomes of cancer patients. The approach anticipates that in the coming years computers and the Internet will become an important adjunct to medical treatment. Dr. Tucker’s group is testing the effectiveness of an online format for providing psychosocial support and treatments online. Because genetic testing is expected to become increasingly prevalent in the coming years, Dr. Tucker’s group is investigating how people to understand and use this information.

Representative Publications:

Eberhardt, AW, M Williams, DC Tucker. Preparing students for research experiences: Hands on wins hands down. Southern Regional Honors Council, March 2008.

Ryan, C, C Betros, DC Tucker. Written and oral communication courses for a thematic honors program in science and engineering. Southern Regional Honors Council, March 2008.

Tucker, DC. What does assessment mean to honors? Member of Developing in Honors Panel, National Collegiate Honors Council, November 2007.

Tucker DC, C Ryan. Scientific communication and thematic honors programs: Strategies to leverage the strengths of the institution. National Collegiate Honors Council, November 2006.

Tucker, DC, JA Crabb, BL Hicken, R Acton, N Press, J Reiss, L Wenzel, A Walker, T Power, J Holup, B Harris, F Dawkins, , R Anderson, D Reboussin, Hispanics differ from other ethnic groups in the HEIRS study in opinions about communicating genetic test information within families. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 2004.

Teaching Interests:

PY 315 Research Methods in Psychology PY 305 Medical Psychology PY 731 Health Psychology I