About Kathleen Hoffman, PhD, MSPH

Kathleen is a communications professional, social scientist and writer who develops evidence-based communications focused on the human side of healthcare. Her research background includes experimental studies in communication, persuasion, health communication and the media and qualitative research focused on content analysis, frame analysis and ethnography. As a professional writer and communicator of nearly two decades, Kathleen is a leader in the patient empowerment movement. Kathleen earned her PhD in Communications from the University of Alabama, preceded by a master’s degree in Television and Film from Syracuse University and a master’s degree in Public Health at UNC-Chapel Hill. She was also a two-time fellow of Healthcare Communication at Harvard University’s School of Public Health. Kathleen lives near Boston with her husband and son.
Senior Health Researcher and Writer

Prostate Cancer: A Couple’s Disease

Prostate Cancer: "A Couple's Disease" By Kathleen Hoffman, PhD, MSPH Prostate cancer impacts not just the physical health of the individual but also their emotional and social health. A study of patients and their partners compared satisfaction with treatment, worry about cancer, and the consequences of treatment on their relationship. Twenty-five percent said that their personal activities were negatively impacted by prostate cancer diagnosis and treatment and 42 percent reported their relationships with their partners, especially their sexual relationships, were negatively affected.1 Prostate cancer has been called a couple’s disease. A spouse posted in the ZERO [...]

Bladder cancer: What is a survivor?

Bladder cancer: What is a survivor? By Kathleen Hoffman, PhD, MSPH Bladder cancer is the fourth most common cancer in men. When detected early, it is considered highly treatable.1 In 2021, about 83,000 people were expected to be diagnosed with bladder cancer (64,280 in men and 19,450 in women).2 Ninety percent of these cancers are urothelial carcinomas (UC), or cancers of the lining of the urinary tract. Unfortunately, UC may also recur. For example, consider that about 50% of all bladder cancers are discovered while the cancer is only in the inner layer of the bladder wall [...]

Melanoma a “fake cancer”? — Public perception and research strides

Melanoma a “fake cancer”? — Public perception and research strides By Kathleen Hoffman, PhD, MSPH In a discussion of melanoma on Inspire, a caregiver said to fellow members: The doctors and drug companies are making tremendous strides in the treatment of this terrible disease!! Her message of hope resonates strongly today. Unfortunately, misconceptions about this cancer linger among the general population. One newly diagnosed patient on Inspire described their confusion: I was recently diagnosed with stage 3C...I honestly always thought melanoma was “fake” cancer, because you just cut it off, right? The fact that people didn’t associate [...]

Are we moving beyond Levodopa for Parkinson’s Disease?

Are we moving beyond Levodopa for Parkinson’s Disease? By Kathleen Hoffman, PhD, MSPH In November, the American Academy of Neurologists (AAN) updated their 2002 guidelines for treatment of Parkinson’s Disease (PD) with dopaminergic drugs (drugs that improve dopamine release). The preeminent drug for treatment of early Parkinson’s, levodopa, creates the dopamine neurotransmitter that people with Parkinson’s progressively lack. Despite the fact that levodopa was approved to treat Parkinson’s over fifty years ago, the updated guidelines reaffirm that levodopa combined with carbidopa is still the best first-line treatment for motor symptoms of early PD when compared with the [...]

Beating back chronic myelogenous leukemia

Beating back chronic myelogenous leukemia By Kathleen Hoffman, PhD, MSPH A patient feels fine, but a routine complete blood count (CBC) test reveals an unusually high white blood cell count. High white blood cell counts may result from many conditions, but if it’s accompanied by other signs such as high or low platelet counts and anemia, further tests may reveal that the patient has Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia, or CML. CML is a blood cancer that starts in the bone marrow and results in an overgrowth of damaged white blood cells. Most people’s diagnosis begins after a routine [...]

“Still alive and kicking” – The importance of sickle cell disease clinical trial awareness

"Still alive and kicking" - The importance of sickle cell disease clinical trial awareness By Kathleen Hoffman, PhD, MSPH Sickle cell disease (SCD) is a rare disease: an inherited and incurable blood disorder that causes red blood cells to be misshapen and rigid, affecting their ability to provide oxygen to tissues. Their shape and rigidity cause random blood vessel inflammation and blockages anywhere in the body, with associated organ damage. Six million people suffer from SCD worldwide and many more carry the trait that causes it.1 It prevails in people whose genetics include a connection with sub-Saharan [...]

New classes of psoriatic arthritis drugs in clinical trials show promise

New classes of psoriatic arthritis drugs in clinical trials show promise By Kathleen Hoffman, PhD, MSPH Psoriatic Arthritis (PsA) is an inflammatory autoimmune disease affecting approximately one to two percent of the population. While psoriasis causes red and scaly patches on the skin, PsA creates mild to severe pain and swelling of any joint. About 5 to 30 percent of patients with psoriasis eventually develop PsA, and 85 percent of people with PsA have psoriasis as a comorbidity. Because there is no cure, treatment is focused on symptom management.1,2,3 That is the high-level view. At the experiential [...]

Epilepsy can happen to anyone at any age

Epilepsy can happen to anyone at any age By Kathleen Hoffman, PhD, MSPH Seizures are frightening for those who have them, for their loved ones and for onlookers. Descriptions of epilepsy go back as far as the Sumerians in 2500 BC. Expressing awe and dread, Babylonians, in 1050 BC, called seizures “​​ṣibtu” translated as “possession” and ṣabātu, “to seize” as in being possessed or seized by the gods.1 Although we still use the term “seizure,” today, these events are now understood. Arising from a disruption in the delicate balance between the internal and external environment of a [...]

Phase II studies for Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma show promise

Phase II studies for Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma show promise By Kathleen Hoffman, PhD, MSPH Let’s talk about lymphoma: Cancer of the lymphocytes, formed in the bone marrow and thymus that circulate in the lymph system. A previous post covered updates on research and treatments of Hodgkin Lymphoma, a cancer characterized by the presence of abnormal cells called “Reed-Sternberg” cells.1 Non Hodgkin Lymphoma (NHL) is any type of lymphoma that isn’t Hodgkin Lymphoma. Four percent of the cancers diagnosed in the US in 2021 are expected to be NHL, with about 81,560 new diagnoses.2 With over 60 different types [...]

Hope for Patients with Early Alzheimer’s Disease and Their Family Members

Hope for Patients with Early Alzheimer’s Disease and Their Family Members By Kathleen Hoffman, PhD, MSPH Losing who you are is essentially what the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease means. An irreversible and progressive brain disorder, it is the sixth leading cause of death, affecting over 6 million people in the US.1 The disease profoundly impacts those who are diagnosed as well as their loved ones: I am writing today because I'm having a hard time accepting my husband's diagnosis of Alzheimer's Disease. He is only [age] and has no family history of the disease. . . They [...]